Energy Business

The Long-Term Upside Case for American Superconductor

American Superconductor Corp. (NASDAQ: AMSC) is a company recently featured by 24/7 Wall St. as one of seven alternative energy stocks with significant long-term upside. There is more than one side to this story, and the company’s past and volatile results might scare away many traditional investors. Still, there is a significant opportunity over the long term if this company can find its sweet spot.

American Superconductor is different from many alternative and renewable energy companies. It is effectively two companies in one. It represents a wind-related opportunity (Windtec) and a grid technology one (Gridtec). Note that American Superconductor is one of the more complicated companies in alternatives and renewables.

What we would first say is that the Gridtec and Windtec operations do not generally have the same business trends with each other at any point in time. Does this leave an opportunity for the company to eventually split itself up? Possibly, although we would not look for such a special situation to develop in any base case scenario.

Speculative alternative energy companies generally are small cap stocks with a history of losses, so we have to mention that they would not be suitable for anyone but very speculative investors. There are not likely to be any dividends to act as a cushion at any point in the near future, and AMSC has total accumulated losses of more than $856 million over its life as of March 31.

Investors may recall that American Superconductor fell from grace after significant issues arose in China. In 2011, this stock fell from $30 to less than $5, and it has struggled ever since. At this point, we are looking beyond the past for its dual opportunity in wind and in grid ahead.

One potential wild card here is that there is an ongoing possibility that its woes from China will become good again. The base case does not assume that Sinovel issues will suddenly be rectified, but anything — even out of China — is possible in the future. AMSC has also restructured its U.S. operations. The company has a presence in Asia, Australia and Europe.

ALSO READ: Seven Speculative Alternative Energy Stocks With Massive Potential Upside

What potentially makes AMSC less risky in the short-term than its past may indicate is that it has nearly $50 million in cash as a cushion. Its market cap was about $125 million on Friday, only about 15% above its tangible book value. AMSC also has tried to slow its cash burn rate to acceptable levels, and as such it still has ample access to the capital markets for raising cash if needed.

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