Green Energy: Cars, Fuel, and Solar (TSLA, WMT, ASTI, AAPL, KIOR)

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The last couple of days have generated some interesting news on the green energy front. Today’s release of the Department of Energy’s report on wind power generation may be the biggest, but here are a few others worthy of note.

The founder and CEO of Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) told attendees at the recent National Clean Energy Conference in Las Vegas that the next six months might by do or die time for the company:

The challenge Tesla faces over the next several months, which is a very difficult one, is to scale up production and achieve enough of a gross margin on the product that we get to a situation where we’re cash flow positive. If we aren’t able to do that we will join the graveyard of all the other car company startups of the last 90 years.

It’s definitely going to be a pretty tough period over the next six months. We can’t afford to make a lot of mistakes. If we don’t make too many mistakes we’ll get through that period and then be able to bring out larger volume cars that are more affordable.

Hedging its bets, Tesla has also agreed to install battery storage systems at 90 stores around the country owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and that have solar PV rooftoop systems. That’s not going to be a major shift in Tesla’s business plan, but it is interesting nonetheless.

What makes that interesting is that a growing number of green companies have been looking for ways of generating revenue and profits that have little to do with their original mission. Another one is Ascent Solar Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: ASTI) which has jumped into the smartphone recharger market with its flexible solar PV technology. The company has already released a charger for the iPhone from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and yesterday kicked out a charger for the Samsung Galaxy 3S phones. The company’s shares rose more than 20% yesterday and are up another 28% today to post a new 52-week high of $2.31.

Finally, Kior Corp. (NASDAQ: KIOR) reported quarterly numbers this morning. The maker of cellulosic gasoline and diesel fuel did not recognize any revenue for the quarter, but its EPS loss of -$0.22 was a penny better than the consensus estimate. The good news for the company is that it now expects to begin producing fuel at its plant in Georgia in September and that the final cost for the plant will be 4% lower than originally estimated.

Tesla’s shares are down about -4.5% in early afternoon trading today at $29.76 in a 52-week range of $21.50-$39.95.

Shares of Ascent Solar are up more than 31.5% at $2.12 after reaching a new 52-week high of $2.31 earlier. The previous range was $0.36-$1.70.

Kior’s shares are down -15% at $6.78 in a 52-week range of $6.34-$23.85.

Paul Ausick

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