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TravelCenters of America LLC (TA), Clean Energy Fuels Corp (CLNE): Natural Gas as a Vehicle Fuel — Is a New Day Finally Dawning?

What about Clean Energy?

Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ:CLNE) also offers natural gas to truckers. Currently, Clean Energy operates roughly half the number of stations as TravelCenters of America LLC (NYSE:TA). Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ:CLNE) partners with Flying J to provide natural gas fuel in about 70 truck stops. The remaining fueling stations offer compressed or liquefied natural gas, but no amenities. Clean Energy also provides natural gas fuel for fleet vehicles, retrofits vehicles to burn natural gas and owns a landfill that generates so-called biomethane. For 2013, in a personal email, a company spokesman stated Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ:CLNE) will focus on building fueling stations for fleet vehicles. The spokesman also stated the company “couldn’t be happier” with how things are progressing.

Since its IPO in 2007, Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ:CLNE) stock has risen and fallen and now trades at around $13 per share, same as it did in the summer of 2007. While sales grew during this time, earnings haven’t. For example, only twice in the past three years has Clean Energy reported a quarterly profit despite revenues growing from $211 million to $334 million. For the past three years in fact, annual losses have widened. Perhaps this is why institutions have sold off almost a third of their holdings in Clean Energy.

So which is the better investment?

To me, this question requires no thought. For either capital gains or income, TravelCenters of America LLC (NYSE:TA) eats Clean Energy on a cracker. Don’t get me wrong, Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ:CLNE) offers a great fuel alternative and a variety of support services to go with it. They are clearly looking to the future and becoming an all-encompassing natural gas fuel company.

I would love to see the US go hog wild on natural gas as a vehicle fuel. The sad reality is adaptation of natural gas as a fuel proceeds at a glacial pace. TravelCenter doesn’t offer natural gas as its one and only fuel, but I suspect over time, natural gas will grow in importance.

Meanwhile, TravelCenter generates earnings through traditional fuels and a diversity of amenities for truckers. I wish Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ:CLNE) all the best, but right now, my investment dollars are going to the company producing earnings.

The article Natural Gas as a Vehicle Fuel — Is a New Day Finally Dawning? originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Robert Zimmerman.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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