As the United States continues to become more energy independent -- thanks in part to controversial fracking techniques -- small stateside companies are trying to build out niches that could turn into huge cash cows.

One of those companies, which I've covered for quite a while, is Heckmann (NYSE:NES). The company is intent on supplying, disposing of, and cleaning the water needed for both natural gas and oil extraction.

Today, shares of the company started out down by as much as 9%. Though Heckmann did file some papers with the SEC today, those papers were largely procedural, and as far as I can see, introduced no new information that could cause such a drop.

Instead, today's drop looks to be related to a downgrade from an analyst at Webush, who said that channel checks indicated the probability for lower earnings, pricing pressures, and weakness in natural gas. The analyst changed the price target on the stock from $3.00 to $2.50.

While there's no way for me to tell if these concerns are legitimate, I can assure you they are short-term in nature. If Heckmann continues to win contracts to help meet the needs of North American energy extractors, it is likely to become more ingrained in the energy industry; thus, it is also likely to endure the ups and downs of the cyclical energy industry. That's just part and parcel of energy investing.

As a long-term investor, the key to focus on is Heckmann's ability to build out the infrastructure necessary to put a moat between itself and possible competitors. The acquisition of Power Fuels last year was a huge step in the right direction, but only time will tell how that plays out.

Another common misconception that Wall Street sometimes forgets is that Heckmann -- which once focused almost exclusively on natural gas -- has branched out in its revenue streams.

I own shares of Heckmann myself and have no intentions of selling them because of this downgrade. But while I think an investment in Heckmann is worth my money -- and my All-Star CAPS profile -- right now, I've only devoted about 1% of my holdings to the company.

Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns shares of Heckmann. The Motley Fool owns shares of Heckmann and has the following options: Long Jan 2014 $4 Calls on Heckmann and Short Jan 2014 $3 Puts on Heckmann. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.