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As a renewable-energy junkie, I'm always looking for a way to profit from the transition to renewable energy and the updated grid infrastructure that will lead the way. There's one company that will let you profit from both sides of this industry: American Superconductor (Nasdaq: AMSC ) .
This manufacturer of superconductor wire and electronics has transitioned to be a big power in wind since purchasing Windtec in 2007. And it was a timely purchase, since Windtec has been the driver behind American Superconductor's growth over the past few years while the superconductor business has floundered. The power-systems business grew revenues at 34.3% last quarter alone and accounted for all the company's growth.
Wind growth continues
The wind business is American Superconductor's foundation right now. Chinese manufacturers looking to get into wind turbines are using American technology to help assist production so they don't have to develop the technology themselves. For example, A-Power Energy Generation Systems (Nasdaq: APWR ) has big wind plans and is getting an assist from General Electric (NYSE: GE ) to build gearboxes. AMSC Windtec is doing the same thing by providing technology and equipment to eight new companies that should start volume production between now and mid-2011.
But there are a number of new products to get excited about. I'm looking forward to seeing the SeaTitan wind turbine, which AMSC says will "dominate the offshore wind market." That's a bold statement for a company competing with wind powerhouses such as GE and Siemens (NYSE: SI ) , but I can't count AMSC out.
AMSC also recently purchased a 25% stake in Blade Dynamics, a producer of advanced wind-turbine blades. AMSC's customers will have first access to the blade designs.
On the solar front, last week AMSC announced its SolarTie Grid Interconnection Solution, a power inverter built specifically for the solar market. AMSC expects solar PV inverters to quadruple from 2009 to 2014, up to 32 GW.
My original concern looking at AMSC more than a year ago was its valuation. At the time, the company wasn't making a profit and sales had shown only one quarter of growth. But since then, the story has changed dramatically. AMSC's one-year revenue growth stands at 72.9% and earnings bounced to $0.20 last quarter from $0.04 a year earlier. This quarter, analysts are expecting earnings to more than double from the prior year to $0.23 per share.
With the price-to-earnings ratio approaching 35 for estimated 2010 earnings, AMSC isn't cheap. But it's also not unreasonable for a company showing explosive growth. In a growth stock, I look for a company to consistently beat earnings estimates, showing me that analysts can't keep up with the growth story. To that end, AMSC has surprised to the upside by an average of 29.6% over the past four quarters. This quarter, I expect another upside shock to give this supercharged stock a boost.
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