There really isn't a word that neatly captures American Superconductor (NASDAQ:AMSC) in the way that "biotech" does for that particular sector. I mean, say "biotech" to an experienced investor, and they'll automatically think of certain attributes: losing money, risky, but fabulous potential if things go right. With promising opportunities in superconducting wire, grid stabilization products, and naval motors, maybe American Superconductor is a "powertech" or "electrotech."

Whatever the case, it's still losing money. Revenue was up 15% for the first quarter, but the operating loss increased slightly from last year. Performance tends to bounce around a bit from quarter to quarter as orders come in, but basically the power electronic systems segment is the one with "real" products right now -- products that are seeing respectable demand at places like wind farms.

The company's superconducting wire gets all the press. These lines can transmit significantly more power than regular wires, and folks see the demand for regular power cables at General Cable (NYSE:BGC), plus the talk of new utility-plant construction, and connect the dots to a huge opportunity. Now, there is competition (mostly from a business that Philips (NYSE:PHG) acquired and will likely spin off), as well as the threat that delays in product development will mean missed opportunities. But so long as American Superconductor stays afloat and gets a commercially viable product to market around the end of the decade, there will be plenty of demand left to satisfy.

I'm actually almost as interested in the potential of the motors business, though. Working with Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), the company may have built a legitimately better mousetrap when it comes to naval propulsion -- which would interest military contractors like Northrop and General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), but also commercial shipbuilders, perhaps.

If you want a play on the electrical infrastructure build-out without tremendous risk, check out ABB (NYSE:ABB), Siemens (NYSE:SI), or General Electric. But if you have a spot in your portfolio for a spicy meatball (my name for these high-risk, high-reward opportunities), American Superconductor may at least be worth a look. It may not be easy to value, but it's not hard to imagine the potential if things go right.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).