Analyst Sees 4 Clean Technology Stocks as Big 2015 Winners

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As oil continues to plummet, many of the top clean energy stocks have seen an incredible amount of selling from investors concerned over the 30% drop in oil pricing. The analysts at Cowen feel that the selling is very irrational, and they make the point that solar, LED and smart grid stocks have very little, if no impact from swings in the oil market.

In a new research report, they point out that 90% of the world’s electricity pricing is not meaningfully impacted by oil price trends. Most industrialized nations have a regulated utility market where electricity pricing is controlled, and generation comes from a portfolio of assets. What that means for investors is a solid buying opportunity — and that perhaps not all clean tech stocks are created equally.

The Cowen team remains very bullish on clean technology stock for 2015. In the research report they focus on four top stocks to buy that could have solid gains for investors next year.

Acuity Brands Inc. (NYSE: AYI) leads off the list, and it is a top stock to buy in the next-generation lighting space. The company is the leading provider of North American lighting fixtures (22 brands, 1.7 million SKUs). The Cowen analysts acknowledge that, trading at 24.6 times fiscal year 2015 earnings estimates, the stock is not cheap on a relative basis. However, they think that non-residential sales trends, combined with LED margin improvement, can continue to drive the share price higher.

The Cowen price target for the stock is $155. The Thomson/First Call consensus target is lower at $152.91. Shares closed trading Friday at $140.23.

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Polypore International Inc. (NYSE: PPO) is another top stock in the next-generation transportation subsector at Cowen, and it is listed as one of the top picks in the clean tech coverage. This is a stock that is very levered to the fast-growing electric car arena as they produce specialty chemical separators used in the battery industry. After two disappointing years in 2012 and 2013, the Cowen team feels that expectations have been reset and the company is poised to take advantage of long-term deals with Samsung and Panasonic.

The Cowen price target for the stock is $60, and the consensus target is $50.21. Polypore shares closed Friday at $48.44.

SunEdison Inc. (NYSE: SUNE) is rated a top pick at Cowen, and the stock, which was absolutely pounded in the fall sell-off, got a big boost when hedge fund legend David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital continued to talk his book and said the stock remains a huge fund holding. SunEdison acquired First Wind, one of the largest wind power developers in the United States, for $2.4 billion in November, and the stock rocketed higher, but it has since backed up. The acquisition of First Wind, which is based in Boston, could make SunEdison the leading renewable energy development company in the world.

The Cowen price target for the stock is posted at $33, and the consensus target is $28.77. The stock closed Friday at $20.97.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) rounds out the big four clean energy top pick stocks to buy at Cowen to take advantage of the current weakness in the market. They like the stock because of the company’s proximity to making a yieldco decision, expected at some point in 2015, which the analysts think creates even more value for shareholders. The company offers solar power products, including panels, balance of system components, and inverters. It also designs, manufactures, and sells high-performance rooftop and ground-mounted solar power systems, as well as utility-scale photovoltaic power plants. In addition, the company offers operations and maintenance services, including remote monitoring, preventative and corrective maintenance services, as well as rapid-response outage restoration and inverter repair services.

The Cowen price objective is $46, and the consensus target is set at $39.13. The stock closed trading on Friday at $25.86 a share.

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The constant move forward for clean energy is a force that cannot be stopped at this point. Aggressive investors looking to add positions in portfolios may do well with any of these top picks to buy from Cowen.