The future for Clean Energy Fuels (Nasdaq: CLNE ) appears to be bright heading into 2012. The company was able to raise $450 million last year to fund expansion and signed on a number of new customers, which should drive better results this year.
As global supply disruptions and emerging-market growth push the price of oil higher, the hope is that an abundant domestic supply of natural gas at low costs will convince drivers to make the switch to natural gas here in the United States.
Although subsidies from the NAT GAS Act of 2011 never became a reality, the benefits of liquefied natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas (CNG) are undeniable. According to a recent release from Clean Energy Fuels, natural gas fuel is up to $1.50 less than diesel or gasoline per gallon, and the environmental impact is less than from oil-based products. For truckers who focus on day-to-day costs more closely than the average commuter, the lower cost is a big incentive to make the switch to natural gas.
But it takes a lot of natural gas stations to be able to travel across the country on natural gas. That's why the company's partnerships with Flying J and an investment from Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) are so important for "America's Natural Gas Highway" the company is building. The $150 million Chesapeake investment along will help build approximately 150 LNG truck fueling stations.
And vehicle manufacturers are starting to realize the benefits as well. Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT ) is helping make this transition possible by developing technology to build and convert engines to natural gas. As more truck manufacturers roll out natural gas vehicles and more stations are built, the switch will be much easier to make.
The transition to natural gas will be slow, and profit isn't coming quickly, but Clean Energy Fuels looks to be one of the companies leading the way.
It's these positive trends along with strong 58% revenue growth last quarter that gives me enough confidence to keep a green-thumb rating for Clean Energy Fuels on My CAPS. Take a look at the rest of my picks. If you're interested in reading more about Clean Energy Fuels, add it to My Watchlist, and My Watchlist will find all of our Foolish analysis on this stock.
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