I've been critical of LED lighting company Revolution Lighting Technologies (NASDAQ:RVLT) before, especially with its missed guidance and communications. However, the company and its initiatives are fascinating, are potentially quite lucrative, and I hope it does well.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that Tim Hortons (NYSE: THI), another company that I like to write about, is investing heavily into LED lighting for its stores. While the company it partnered with isn't Revolution Light Technologies, any new interest from large companies like Tim Hortons is good for all players in the industry.
Timmy's bright idea
Like a light bulb above Tim Hortons' head, the company had a great idea to announce on Earth Day, April 22. The company stated that it will replace existing light fixtures in restaurants that it renovates across the United States and Canada as part of a "commitment to environmental sustainability and promoting green building practices." All new restaurants as well will get the LED lighting as well.
Tim Hortons didn't go with Revolution Lighting Technologies on the deal and instead went with "the global leader in lighting." However, the more that businesses in general use LED lighting, the greater the chances are that smaller players like Revolution Lighting Technologies will score some deals of their own. There are tens of thousands of coffee and pastry locations that may be tempted to follow what Tim Hortons is doing. For example Starbucks, the world's largest coffee shop chain, has already been converting its lighting for several years.
Timmy sees the light
Tim Hortons plans to outfit 485 of its restaurants in 2014 alone. The company expects the lighting to use 40% less power and save 6.4 million kilowatt hours in energy. As a bonus, the lighting is expected to be better for customers by improving the light quality and guest experience. We all know some people like to just relax, read a book, use their laptops, or even just chat in places like Tim Hortons, so anything it can do to improve the experience could go a long way.
Tim Hortons had been struggling with semi-lackluster results until last quarter. It then reported a revenue pop of 4.3%, same-store sales gains of 1.6% in Canada and 3.1% in the U.S., and earnings per share that bumped up 6.2% to $0.69. In its conference call, CEO Marc Caira stated that the company was looking to "refresh" its restaurants and "provide the ultimate guest experience." LED lighting is a great start.
LED industry set to explode
Tim Hortons has seen the light. Others should continue to follow, and that will help Revolution Lighting Technologies. According to a research report by ResearchMoz.us, the LED market was just $4.8 billion in 2012. It expects the market to rise 45% a year through 2019 to $42 billion for a total of 775% growth. If Revolution Lighting can grow at even half the industry rate, it could reward shareholders handsomely.
Meanwhile, the Department of Energy forecasts that by the year 2020, 36% of "lumen-hour sales on the general illumination market" will be composed of LED lighting. It expects that to rise to whopping 74% by 2030 and save businesses, people, and governments $30 billion in that single year alone. The massive surge in expected opportunity is going to require a lot of help from different competitors in the industry such as Revolution Lighting Technologies.
Foolish final thoughts
The news doesn't change Tim Hortons' valuation very much in the short term, but it's hard to imagine that it would hurt in the long term. If it can score happier customers and higher sales while saving a few bucks on the electric bill then all the better. Companies such as Tim Hortons may had felt a wakeup call when it comes to utility bills after the brutally cold winter that was recently felt across North America.
As for Revolution Lighting Technologies' valuation, Fools may want to wait on the sidelines. Although the industry is exploding around it, Revolution Lighting Technologies has a history of net losses and missed guidance. Once it turns profitable as reported in an earnings report then you may have to pay a premium, but there should still be plenty of upside from there.