Lighting Company Stocks, A Post Mini-Series – Should We Be Looking at Them More?

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    You know, there is an interesting aspect of the lighting industries as a whole that really mystifies me:  lighting company stocks.  We hear every day about how the Dow is doing, and Cramer yells and screams about Alcatel-Lucent doing this-that-or-the-other, but no one’s out there screaming about how Barco’s stock is doing (EBR:BAR) or how Chung-Hwa Picture Tubes LTD (TPE:2475) is doing lately.

    Something you should be asking yourself is “really, who cares, Jim?”
    (honestly, I ask myself that all the time because I can be one rambling mopho)

    Well, you should care, this is your money in these industries!

    Money and markets in the last few years’ American economy should go to prove how important they really are.  Our industries buy and sell each other, there are hostile takeovers in companies, and it’s all international – Barco NV (a Belgian company) owns the American company High End Systems, for example.  How much do you know about the lighting industries’ companies?  It’s kind of an amazing thing to watch – if you have something like Google Finance (which is a web stock tracker and free, duh), you can see the graphs of the stock price and see why stuff is happening, in the news articles there on the page.  Yahoo also has one – finance.yahoo.com – which is just fine too.

    Here’s the other thing – and I’m speaking primarily to the college-age and high school-age people who read JimOnLight.com…

    Folks, we live in a capital-driven society.  Money is what makes the world go ’round, and just like anything else, you can use it better if you read the directions, per se.  You wouldn’t operate a firearm without some instruction, right?  Would you use a woodchopper without at least glancing at the manual?  The bottom line is – kids, you’re coming into your own right directly into an economy and a market that is pretty competitive right now.  Reading into things like the markets regarding lighting can help find work.  You never know when a certain industry has a boom, like a pharmacy company for example, and they start throwing a lot of conference/convention things.  Somebody has to provide lighting and production for those events.  As my new and really cool friend Mark Hetrick from San Francisco says (and I’m paraphrasing here, Mark, I could never even pretent to repeat your genius):

    “There’s always something going on in San Francisco.  You can come here and work across the gamut of entertainment lighting simply depending on what’s going on in the market.”

    This is why it might just be fun to pay attention to the markets.  Isn’t that so ridiculously logical?!

    Let’s start out by looking at a few stock captures from my account at Google Finance:

    Right now, it looks like Barco is doing fine – this graph shows their stock price up 2.4% at the time of this capture, at $56 bucks a share.  Something that is a bit worrying to me is a comment I read in an article about Barco’s digital projector business doing unbelievably well – the comment regards their lighting business:

    Barco NV, the Belgian maker of digital cinema projectors, reported the highest second-half profit in at least 10 years after ramping up production capacity and will pay a dividend for the first time in three years.

    Second-half net income was 35.2 million euros ($48 million) compared with a net loss of 53.8 million euros a year earlier, the Kortrijk, Belgium-based company said today in a statement. Sales surged 61 percent to 528.8 million euros, beating the 460 million-euro average of three analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Barco plans to pay a dividend of 1 euro a share.

    With fourth-quarter orders slowing to 231 million euros from a peak of 298.9 million euros in the second quarter, the surging shipments of cinema projectors depleted Barco’s order backlog to a nine-month low of 426.9 million euros. Barco, whose lighting and digital-billboard business was unprofitable last year, said it plans to “regroup and recombine” some operating divisions, details of which will be announced on Feb. 18.

    Okay, hmm.  Now I am very curious to hear what the news is here.

    Let’s take a look at the company developing the ESL incandescent lamp replacement – Vu1 Corporation:

    Vu1 Corporation is the company that’s putting out what they claim as the “fully functional replacement for the incandescent light bulb.”  Folks, that’s a pretty big deal thing to say – CFLs sure aren’t a great replacement for the incandescent lamp, and LED A-lamp replacements aren’t there yet either.  Vu1 has a patent on their ESL technology (which means Electron Stimulated Luminescenceâ„¢), but we’re still waiting on the lamps to ship.  I ordered mine almost a month ago, but I’ve not heard anything yet.

    My guess is when that thing hits the market, if the technology is as good as they say, that stock is gonna freaking explode.  An incandescent replacement lamp?  Amazing.  World, I’m guessing that we need to get ready.  I’ve been wrong before (ask my ex-wife or ex-girlfriends), but I’m thinking that this could be huge.

    A related and mind-blowing market is the solar market.  Holy, holy, holy crap.  The market is in a bit of an upswing – and there are a lot of companies playing in that market.  Let’s look at three companies – First Solar, Trina Solar LTD, and SunPower Corporation.

    First, let’s look at First Solar – their stock is kicking some major butt right now, at $168.94 per share:

    Great, right?  Well, if you’re an investor, then heck yes it’s good!  However, if you look into the news, there are some weird signs going on.  For example lately, a bunch of people have bought the option called a “put” on First Solar – a “put” option is basically a bet that the stock will decrease in value, but you then have the right to sell it at a locked in price.  It’s so freaking weird and confusing.  It generally means that people are expecting that stock to decrease in price.  Also, there’s a news article out there that says some analysts from Credit Agricole “downgraded” the First Solar stock from an “outperform” rating to an “underperform” rating.

    What in the f$@# does that mean?!  Does that means something bad?  Is it something good?  To completely contradict all of that news, here’s an article about how First Solar is getting some love from the Obama Administration through their exchange-traded fund (ETF) called the Guggenheim Solar ETF.  Oh, and First Solar’s fourth quarter earnings are expected to be strong.  News is news.  It’s all information to absorb and analyze.

    Now, here’s Trina Solar Limited‘s performance:

    Trina Solar is doing pretty well for itself lately, it’s up a buck and a half or so over the last week.  There are news stories about oversupply threatening solar profits, for example; an analyst here says that Trina Solar stock is a good short term investment; and this guy says that Trina Solar stock is something to put in your portfolio, with a price target of $41 bucks a share.

    The last in the solar category we’ll look at is the stock activity of SunPower Corporation:

    This is a weird one.  Don’t get me wrong, over the last three months, this company’s stock is doing good!  It’s up almost three bucks over the three month look, and it’s showing that solar is earning despite the reports that solar demand has been exaggerated (which isn’t true or false).  But here’s a market report saying that SunPower is trading at about the middle of its high and low.  And another “however,” here’s a report saying that as of February 11 (which was last Friday), SunPower’s stock was up 4% because of California’s demand for more solar deployment.

    News is a weird animal, isn’t it?  Stocks are a weird animal, too!  I find it very easy to track a company’s growth along with the reports that come out – and the news actually makes a lot more sense when we see how the lighting companies out there are competing with each other.

    In the next post in the series, we’re gonna look at semiconductor stocks – you know these as LED companies like Cree and Lighting Science Group.

    Stay tuned!

    3 COMMENTS

    1. Hi Jim, I invest in view one for the very reason you listed and am also looking forward to trying one of their bulbs. Depending on where you ordered from you’ll probably get it next week or next month. I currently have orders in with both Vu1 and Destination Lighting (the online retail arm of view one’s distributor Seattle Lighting). The current word from Destination Lighting is that they will begin shipping early next week. On the other hand, if you ordered direct from view one their orders will be processed starting on or about the seventh of next month (or perhaps a week or two later depending where you are in the queue).

    2. Jim, me thinks you should stick to what you know – lighting – and shy away from what you apparently don’t – investing.

      As for VU1 (VUOL), I had a small position in that company way back but as time went on, more and more the information coming out of them looked like pure b. s. and the product snake oil. Anyone who makes that big a marketing deal out of the evil in the trace amounts of mercury in CFLs (really? After the millions of fluorescent tubes, HID lamps, etc. that have been discarded improperly over the years, NOW, at a time when we’re much more aware of proper disposal, they jump all over this?) strikes me as the politician who spouts off all the negatives of his opponent while saying nothing about what he’s going to do if elected.

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