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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

T. Boone Pickens, Blowin’ in the Wind

“Wind power is … clean, it’s renewable. It’s everything you want. And it’s a stable supply of energy,” Pickens told CNN in May. “It’s unbelievable that we have not done more with wind.”

—T. Boone Pickens, quoted by CNBC, July 8, 2008

He’s back.

T. Boone Pickens is back and on a TV set near you, touting “The Pickens Plan” to get America off its “dangerous reliance on foreign oil.” His solution? Boone wants us to use less oil and gas, and more renewable stuff, like wind.

Grey-hairs like us still remember Boone as the man who shook up the oil industry during a fertile and, for many investors, highly profitable stretch in the early-to-mid 1980s, by putting what seemed like every company incorporated in Texas in play and then letting some other company actually buy them.

His own particular company, Mesa Petroleum, ended badly, the victim of collapsing oil prices and a habit of paying most of his profits—and then some—out in dividends. Boone eventually lost control of Mesa, although his dividend-paying habit outlived his tenure. It was, unfortunately, copied by many other companies that are now mightily regretting it.

(For an excellent look back on Pickens in his prime, as well as many other topics worth remembering, pick up ace New York Times columnist Joe Nocera’s recently published “Good Guys and Bad Guys.”)

After losing Mesa, Boone picked himself up, dusted himself off, and started a hedge fund that made billions out of good old fashioned oil and gas speculation. Give him all the credit he deserves: he bought very low, sold very high, and made his fortune back…and more.

But it’s still worth remembering that, like all speculators, Boone doesn’t hesitate to ‘talk his book.’ It wasn’t too long ago, after all, that the same T. Boone Pickens who is now talking up wind power was talking it down. And thanks to a sharp-eyed reader, we will quote the man himself:

“I was in wind energy for a minute…. I hate it. And when I got to looking at those damn things I said, I don’t want to be a part of putting that on the horizon. I think it’s homely and I don’t like it. We took a loss and got out of it and I’m glad I did.”

—T. Boone Pickens, Bloomberg, February 17, 2005

T. Boone is back. What a $100 a barrel move in crude won’t do.

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

© 2008 NotMakingThisUp, LLC

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews’ recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes investment advice. It should never be relied on in making an investment decision, ever. Nor are these comments meant to be a solicitation of business in any way: such inquiries will not be responded to. This content is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.

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