Technology StocksAmerican Superconductor (AMSC)

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From: Doren9/26/2011 2:50:06 PM
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Chinese Turbine Firm Tied to Software Theft


A former employee of American Superconductor Corp. was convicted in Austria on criminal charges in a corporate espionage case linked to China's biggest manufacturer of wind turbines.

The conviction on charges of fraud and industrial espionage may buttress American Superconductor's allegations against its once-biggest customer, Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd.

The U.S. company contends that Sinovel was responsible for the theft of valuable software that controls turbines used to generate electricity from wind power. It has filed civil suits against Sinovel in Beijing.

Sinovel could not be reached on Friday but has previously denied the allegations.

Dejan Karabasevic, a 38-year-old Serbian engineer, admitted he stole the company's software, modified it and secretly furnished it to Sinovel.

The engineer was sentenced on Friday to three years in prison and ordered to pay of €200,000 ($270,000) to the American firm.

Gunter R. Huainigg, Mr. Karabasevic's attorney, said his client was unhappy with a job change and so furnished Sinovel with the software it wanted. He said Mr. Karabasevic entered into an employment contract with Sinovel that would have paid him $1.7 million over six years. Mr. Karabasevic cooperated with prosecutors in order to get a reduced sentence, he said.

Sinovel is no longer a customer of American Superconductor, which blamed the loss of the Chinese firm's business for the red ink it reported for its fiscal first quarter, which ended June 30. On Friday, the Devens, Mass., company reported a quarterly loss of $37.7 million, or 74 cents a share, compared with a gain of $9.2 million, or 20 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenues fell more than 90% to $9.1 million, from $97.2 million a year earlier.

American Superconductor had been selling Sinovel components and software that control the productivity and power quality of wind turbines, as well as licensing its turbine designs. It began to suspect something was awry when Sinovel earlier this year rejected a large shipment of control components, company officials said.

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From: David C. Burns11/15/2011 6:51:08 PM
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Wind Electricity To Be Fully Competitive With Natural Gas by 2016, Says Bloomberg New Energy Finance

The best wind farms in the world are already competitive with coal, gas and nuclear plants. But over the next five years, continued performance improvements and cost reductions will bring the average onshore wind plant in line with cheap natural gas, even without a price on carbon, according analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

After analyzing the cost curve for wind projects since the mind-1980's, BNEF researchers showed that the cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen 14% for every doubling of installation capacity. These cost reductions are due to a number of factors: more sophisticated manufacturing, better materials, larger turbines, and more experience with plant operations and maintenance. Those improvements, combined with an oversupply of turbines on the global market, will bring the average cost of wind electricity down another 12% by 2016.

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From: tktrimbath12/31/2011 1:33:01 PM
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My semi-annual review of AMSC

INTRO Here's my semi-annual exercise to see if I remember why I own the stocks I own, and so I can check back and see if their stories have changed. I post in case it helps others too.

AMSC (now called American Superconductor)
AMSC (market cap $0.190B)
AMSC is an innovative company looking to make money from the power infrastructure industry, primarily through the increased efficiency of superconducting cables, but also through power regulators, network connections, and wind turbine support. They've even renamed the company from American Superconductor to AMSC, and broken it into two divisions: Gridtec and Windtec. The company looked like it was doing the right things: diversification, product introduction, and industry partnerships. Unfortunately, it's largest revenue generator (wind turbines) was severely impacted by questionable actions from its Chinese customers (who cancelled major orders and have been accused of stealing intellectual property). They had just turned profitable and then had major losses. I expected the superconducting related sales to begin making up the difference, but the lack of news (at least that I've come across) means the stock is languishing at less than one-tenth it's ten-year high.

The company is making hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, and some of the losses are probably one-time write-offs. The cables, motors, power regulators, and wind turbines are selling to an industry that needs such products. The Tres Amigas project ( that will connect all three US major power grids continues to develop. The company is selling into a growing, though stodgy, industry. I wonder if amidst the Chinese wind turbine story I missed a similarly sad bit of news about the superconducting side, the side that convinced me to buy the stock. As the CEO from a few years ago said, they could do for power what fiber optics did for communication. If they do, then that's worth a lot.

The stock trades at a book value of about one and a price/sales of less than two. That is very cheap considering that the company has hundreds of millions in revenue, an active product pipeline, and effectively no debt.

DISCLOSURE LTBH since 2003 but the first shares were sold a while back. I bought more after the main drop, and have been surprised that the knife continued to fall. I might buy more if discretionary funds were available.
(I've also collected links to the other discussion boards and my other stocks over on my blog

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From: David C. Burns1/4/2012 3:40:23 PM
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Startup Promises a Revolutionary Grid Battery

Battery developer Eos Energy Storage claims to have solved key problems holding back a battery technology that could revolutionize grid energy storage. If the company is right, its zinc-air batteries will be able to store energy for half the cost of additional generation from natural gas—the method currently used to meet peak power demands.

Company officials say that current prototypes demonstrate twice the energy density of lithium-ion batteries. They claim their final product will last for 30 years in grid-scale applications with a cycle life that is orders of magnitude greater than that of lead-acid batteries, making it one of the longest-lasting battery types around.

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From: David C. Burns1/13/2012 2:19:12 AM
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US regains lead in clean energy investment

The US overtook China to regain top position as the world’s leading investor in “clean” energy last year, thanks to the Obama administration’s subsidy programme, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research company.

It was the first year since 2008 that the US has been ahead of China as the world’s largest market for investment in renewable energy, biofuels and energy efficiency.

However, it may drop back again this year after the end of two key subsidy programmes introduced as part of the 2009 economic stimulus package: grants for renewable energy projects and government loan guarantees to encourage private sector investment.

Analysts and investors said the future of global clean energy investment depended on bringing down costs to the point where technologies such as solar and wind power could compete against fossil fuels without subsidy.

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To: tktrimbath who wrote (741)2/13/2012 2:53:25 PM
From: Doren
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> I missed a similarly sad bit of news about the superconducting side

I haven't seen anything.

No doubt investors are wary of stories in general, and tired of waiting for a breakthrough on superconducting materials. Most of AMSCs current businesses I think are thin profit margin businesses.

If they discover a breakthrough with high temperature superconductors that might give them the opportunity to compete with high profits and a huge barrier to competition. Even with a breakthrough the product, presumably superconducting cable and wire, would have to be cost effective. That's a pretty tall order.

Otherwise they seem to be plodding along. I would love to see them succeed but baring any inside information on their superconducting business investing in AMSC is pretty speculative.

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From: David C. Burns2/15/2012 2:35:43 PM
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U.S. to Share Cautionary Tale of Trade Secret Theft With Chinese Official


China’s next leader, Xi Jinping, may never have heard of American Superconductor Corporation before he arrived here Monday, but by the end of his visit United States officials hope to make the small Massachusetts wind-energy company an object lesson in the impact of Chinese trade secret theft on American business. Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Massachusetts Democrat, plans to raise personally with Mr. Xi the case of a company that saw 70 percent of its business evaporate last year after a Chinese partner enticed one of its employees to steal the crown jewel of its technology.

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From: David C. Burns2/23/2012 9:37:17 PM
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Wind power on pace to zip past nuclear power worldwide

With the wind at its back, global wind power generation capacity has increased 10-fold over the past decade and is on pace to surpass nuclear power output within five years, according to industry experts.

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From: David C. Burns4/3/2012 3:01:29 PM
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Spain Imposes "Temporary" Halt to New Renewable Energy and Co-generation Projects

Faced with growing fiscal challenges and the specter of increasingly trigger-happy credit rating agencies, the new center-right Spanish government has acted to temporarily put a halt to awarding new feed-in tariff (FIT) contracts starting in January 2013. The move is expected to have immediate impacts on approximately 4,500 MW of wind power projects, 550MW of solar PV projects, as well as a number of projects in other technology classes.

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From: tktrimbath6/30/2012 10:48:37 AM
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INTRO Here's my semi-annual exercise to see if I remember why I own the stocks I own, and so I can check back and see if their stories have changed. I post in case it helps others too.

AMSC (was called American Superconductor)
AMSC (market cap $0.244B)
AMSC started as a company built around making and selling superconducting cables. The cables aid high-efficiency power transmission the way fiber optics aid telecommunications; i.e. high tech sends more stuff down a much smaller pipe. That has big implications for the energy efficiency of power transmission, power regulation, and motors. Along the way they bought a wind turbine design company that brought them early revenue while the technical side of the superconducting cables was worked out. The wind turbine side did marvelous, until their customer backed out, possibly because they'd learned (possibly inappropriately) to compete with AMSC. That situation is now the focus of a major court case in China. I expected the cable news to be more obvious by now, but the main news seems to be about the Tres Amigas Power Interconnector rather than sales of cables, regulators, or motors. They continue to make tens of millions of dollars but that's down from the hundreds of millions they made when Sinovel was their customer.

I am hesitant about the company because they seemed to have lost their momentum when their intellectual property was stolen. But that IP was for wind power, not superconducters. But, where's the news of the big orders for cables and the retrofits of large urban centers? The name change suggests that they are de-emphasizing superconductors, but that puts the focus back on wind power where they had their problems. Even if they win their court case, it will take years and will never fully compensate them for the delays (or me because I'll probably have been forced to sell by then. Bills must be paid.) I think they have tremendous potential, and their price/sales, price/book, and debt all are favorable. Power efficiency will continue to gain prominence and that industry should grow.

I might buy more if I had the discretionary funds, but I'd buy slowly as I listened for the sound of them gaining traction via sales.

DISCLOSURE LTBH since 2003 but the first shares were sold years ago. I bought more after the main drop, and have been surprised that the knife continued to fall. Unfortunately, I may have to sell if I can't find a job or sell my house.
(I've also collected links to the other discussion boards and my other stocks over on my blog

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