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3 Stock Picks for Earth Day

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Google Inc.’s. (GOOGL - Free Report) doodle for the day says it all. A hummingbird appears, followed by a couple of sleepy monkeys looking for warmth in the midst of snow. Other eye-catching images follow, together heralding the coming of Earth Day. Celebrated for the first time in 1970, this annual event promotes environmental conservation initiatives.

Origin and Impact

Proposed on the international stage noted peace activist John McConnell, this annual event was first held in the U.S. on this day in 1970. Founded by Senator Gaylord Nelson, the event gained international recognition in 1990 as the result of the efforts of Denis Hayes.

That year, the day was observed in 141 nations with several events organized through the day. Several communities now celebrate Earth Week, where events centered on the environment are held over an entire week.

Corporate Initiatives: Apple Takes the Lead

Apple Inc. (AAPL - Free Report) has taken the lead on environmental initiatives among U.S. companies this Earth Day. The iPhone maker has launched a program to recycle its used products for free. It has also promised to utilize renewable energy sources for its offices, stores and data centers.

This move is aimed at portraying the company as one taking affirmative action to reduce the negative environmental impact of its gadgets and Web services. Massive data centers, a result of the cloud computing push, consumes large amounts of electricity.

In fact, cloud computing services consume more power than China, Japan, Russia, India and the U.S., according to a report from Greenpeace. The environmental organization has applauded Apple for its environmental efforts.

Top Green Power Users

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its national top 100 list of the largest green power users who are part of the Green Power Partnership. Green power is defined by the EPA as “those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit.” This partnership is a voluntary commitment as per which organizations purchase green power or generate it on-site. For its part, the EPA offers technical support and advice to such companies.

The latest list features Intel Corp. (INTC - Free Report) at the top, followed by Kohl's Corp. (KSS - Free Report) , Microsoft Corp. (MSFT - Free Report) , Whole Foods Market, Inc. and Google. The total green power usage of those participating in the program adds up to around 24 billion kilowatt-hours.

Renewable Energy Providers and Recyclers

The report from the EPA as well as evidence from Greenpeace implies that the use of environment friendly energy sources and recycling activities are poised to increase significantly. Greenpeace’s praise for Apple’s initiatives shows that this is not just a positioning strategy but a genuine initiative.

Below we present three stocks which are poised to benefit from the increase in demand for clean energy as well as recycling activities, each of which also has a good Zacks Rank.

Canadian Solar Inc.

Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ - Free Report) is a vertically-integrated manufacturer of silicon ingots, wafers, cells, solar modules (panels) and custom-designed solar power applications. The company designs, manufactures and delivers solar products and solar system solutions for both on-grid and off-grid use to customers worldwide. The company was incorporated in Canada in 2001.

Canadian Solar operates through eight wholly-owned manufacturing subsidiaries. Canadian Solar is a leading photovoltaic supplier with over 5 gigawatt (GW) delivered in 70 countries.

Canadian Solar holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and has expected earnings growth of 336% for the next financial year. The forward price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) for the current financial year (F1) is 7.22.

Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc.

Green Plains Renewable Energy (GPRE - Free Report) is North America's fourth largest ethanol producer, operating six ethanol plants in Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and Tennessee with a combined expected operating capacity of 480 million gallons of ethanol per year.

Green Plains also operates an independent third-party ethanol marketing service that currently provides marketing services to its affiliated plants as well as three third-party ethanol producers with expected operating capacity of 305 million gallons per year.

Currently the company holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and has expected earnings growth of 137.4% for the next financial year. It has a P/E (F1) of 12.51.

Vertex Energy Inc.                                                     

Vertex Energy (VTNR - Free Report) , formerly World Waste Technologies Inc, is a development-stage company formed to develop, design, build, own and operate facilities, which employ systems and technologies designed to profitably convert municipal solid waste into usable commodities and products.

Based in Cupertino, California, Vertex Energy also operates as a consolidator, refiner, and re-refiner of petroleum streams in the United States. Its petroleum streams include used oil, transmix, fuel oils, and off-specification commercial chemical products.

Apart from a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Vertex Energy has expected earnings growth of 46.6% for the next financial year. It has a P/E (F1) of 12.64.

The programs implemented by several companies show that their commitment to the environment is not limited to Earth Day alone. The beneficial effects of these initiatives are more than apparent now. This is why these stocks would be good choices, for you and for the Earth.

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