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Your light bulbs are obsolete. Yes, all of them. They're going away and you won't miss them.
LED light bulbs are ready to roar onto the scene, replacing the old incandescent bulbs left and right. In 2012, the inefficient 60-watt incandescent Edison-style bulbs will be illegal by federal law, but LED lights will fit the new energy standards nicely. Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) just introduced an affordable 9-watt bulb that uses 80% less power and is said to last up to 22 years. Not far behind Home Depot is competition from General Electric (NYSE: GE ) , Phillips (NYSE: PHG ) , and Siemens (NYSE: SI ) subsidiary Osram Sylvania, each of which have their own lower-power bulbs set to premier before the 2012 rules go into effect.
Unlike the compact fluorescent pigtail tubes, LED bulbs generally look like the light bulbs you're used to, light up immediately, and don't contain any mercury. They're also even more efficient at turning electrical power into usable light, and will last for a very long time. Fluorescents last about four times longer than an old-school bulb, but you'd have to replace that quirky efficiency bulb three times before the LED lamp burns out.
The investing impact of this forced revolution is profound, if you know where to look. GE, Philips, and Osram are all replacing their own incandescent products with fresher goods. Depending on the profit margins of each product, that could be a boost or a wash. But then there's LED specialist Cree (Nasdaq: CREE ) , which both makes light bulbs of its own and ships LED components to the big boys. This puppy won't be cannibalizing its own sales, and will most certainly do rampant business over the next few years.
Thinking supremely long-term, you might even look at Universal Display (Nasdaq: PANL ) , as its organic LED lighting products are a few years away from commercial products on store shelves. Manufacturing efficiencies and general flexibility of the OLED technology could make the LED era short-lived.
But for immediate results, Cree is where it's at. I'm heading on over to CAPS to rate the stock "outperform" for the next four years or so, because we're standing in the foothills of the Himalayas here. You're welcome to throw on a backback, grab a sherpa, and come along. The path will be well-lighted.