Great Call on Suntech Power! What's Next?

Let's face it, saving the environment is great for many reasons, but alternative energy is a heck of a lot more attractive when fossil fuel prices are heading through the roof. We had that exact situation last summer, so it's not surprising that solar stocks like Suntech Power (NYSE: STP  ) and First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR  ) were doing their best Icarus impressions.

Unfortunately, just like Icarus, the wings of the stocks in the solar industry got damaged badly and they all came plummeting back down.

Some of the members of The Motley Fool's CAPS community managed to jump on these beaten-down stocks right at their low point, though, and in some cases have caught pretty amazing rebounds. CAPS member diablo0825, for instance, gave Suntech a thumbs-up back in early March when the stock was trading at just more than $5 per share. This savvy investor has scored more than a triple since then and has bagged more than 200 CAPS points on that one call.

diablo0825 is one of CAPS' All-Stars -- players with a rating of 80 or greater -- and has managed an impressive stock-picking accuracy of 65% while racking up more than1,100 points. Suntech isn't this player's only great call. Here's a look at a few of the other prescient picks:

Company

Date Picked

Call

Points

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

Textron (NYSE: TXT  )

3/3/09

Outperform

153

****

Chicago Bridge & Iron (NYSE: CBI  )

3/2/09

Outperform

92

*****

Precision Drilling Trust (NYSE: PDS  )

3/2/09

Outperform

83

*****

Data from CAPS.

So what is this investor looking at these days? Here are a few of the most recent calls on CAPS:

Company

Date Picked

Call

CAPS Rating
(out of 5)

U.S. Natural Gas (NYSE: UNG  )

5/1/09

Outperform

****

First Solar

3/6/09

Outperform

**

Walgreen (NYSE: WAG  )

3/6/09

Outperform

****

Data from CAPS.

While not all of these picks may pan out, they could be a good place to start further research. I decided to take a closer look at four-star Walgreen.

A great company right around the corner
"Buy what you know" is probably the classic Peter Lynch concept. Sure, it's not really as simple as it sounds, but companies that you're familiar with can be a great place to fish for top-notch investment ideas.

If Walgreen has anything to say about it, you'll probably not only know its stores, but know them well. The company's goal, as it puts it in its SEC filings, is to be "the best, most convenient, community-based store network in America."

Convenience has its benefits no matter what kind of store you are, but when you're hooking people up with their prescription medications -- which make up around 65% of Walgreen's business -- being close by is crucial. And to be sure, it's pretty hard to throw a rock in most places in the U.S. without hitting a Walgreen storefront.

The beauty of Walgreen is definitely more than skin-deep though. Digging into the company's financial statements we can find that it has more than $1.5 billion in cash on its balance sheet, it carries a relatively small amount of debt, and it produces a healthy amount of cash flow, which it uses to pay a dividend and buy back shares.

On CAPS, the stock is just shy of a perfect five-star rating, but still has nearly 1,800 outperform ratings. To get a better idea why the stock is so popular, let's take a look at what CAPS All-Star SARdMc had to say last year when giving Walgreen a thumbs-up:

Too good of a company to stay down at these levels. They are still growing organically (first store in Alaska in 2009) and are making acqusitions as well. With the baby boomers coming up the company will be the neighborhood drug/convenience store. Walk-in clinics will become a big deal after health care reform.

I've already given Walgreen a thumbs-up in my CAPS portfolio, but here's the important question: What's your take on it? Will prescription drugs continue to help it swim against the economic tide? Get in the action by clicking over to CAPS; it's absolutely free and already has more than 135,000 stock pickers chipping in to find the best stocks out there.

Related Foolishness:

Suntech Power Holdings is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. and Precision Drilling are Motley Fool Global Gains selections. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. He is keeping a close eye on some of these stocks through his CAPS portfolio. You can also connect with Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy thinks working like a dog seems like a great life -- especially if you're Matt's dog.


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  • Report this Comment On June 29, 2009, at 2:31 PM, Danno45 wrote:

    I'd watch my steps with any solar companies today, and especially thin film companies. Refined silicon has dropped in price 8 fold over the past year. PV panels are about 5-6% more efficient than thin film, and due to an oversupply of PV panels in the market and the reduction in silicon wafer costs, the cost of PV will be close to the cost of thin film, but with much higher efficiency.

    Large solar projects are not in favor with banks and other lenders due to the 25 year payback, so a lot of projects that were contemplated will not be funded.

    I bought Suntech in March for $6 and change and sold at $12 and change for a nice double. While I missed a chunk of upside, I believe it's investors getting ahead of themselves and falling in love with a concept that drove the solar stocks higher, but the fundamentals are going to get whacked IMO due to the simple equation of supply and demmand.

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