Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of micro-turbine maker Capstone Turbine (NASDAQ:CPST) took off this morning, gaining 4% after the company bagged two orders from Russia. Two noteworthy factors about the order are: It is the company's first order for 2014, and it caters to an important end market.
So what: Capstone will install its micro-turbines, totaling 24 megawatts in size, at modular power stations in Russia, taking it a step further into the high-potential oil and gas market in the nation. More importantly, some of those turbines will run on natural gas that otherwise would go to waste, and thus be flared (that is, burned). That's really interesting, and worth noting, considering that the emissions released from flaring of natural gas have recently caught the attention of environmental activists across the globe.
Now what: You may be surprised to know that Russia is the world's largest emitter of flare gas. According to the World Bank, the country loses more than $5 billion every year because of flaring-related economic and environmental implications. If an estimated 140 billion cubic meters of associated gas is burned globally every year, Russia alone flares nearly 40 billion cubic meters annually.
Needless to say, Russian oil companies are under tremendous pressure to reduce gas flaring, which in turn translates into a massive opportunity for Capstone Turbine. Capstone's micro turbines can effectively generate low-cost power while running on flare gas -- a combination that is generating greater interest not just from companies in Russia but also from the U.S. and Africa.
As stricter gas-flaring regulations make way in the years to come, Capstone's turbines should find more takers. The company is already expanding rapidly into the oil and gas sector, currently shipping more than half of its turbines to the market. Capstone's turbines are also multi-fuel, which further increases their scope of application.
Today's order may not be a big one, but it may well have the potential to change the game for Capstone Turbine for the reasons cited above. The green energy company already looks set for a big year, and this order may just be the beginning. Keep a close watch on this tiny stock.