The energy sector is a big player in the American economy, what with our heavy dependence on gas for transportation and “on-the-grid” power for our high-tech businesses and consumer gadgets. So while alternative energy sources like wind and solar aren’t big players yet, they are undoubtedly an important part of the future in American energy.
That’s why First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) is perfect for our Real America Stock pick from Arizona. This sunbelt state is prime real estate for solar energy distribution, and First Solar is the leading U.S. company in this emerging business.
FSLR is a real company and not just some green-energy startup living off government grants. It is profitable, does more than $2.5 billion in revenue annually and boasts a market cap of over $1 billion. It employs more than 6,500 people globally and has stalled over 5 gigawatts of capacity in its history. That’s enough to power 3.7 million to 5 million homes! (Or for you movie fans, more than four trips Back to the Future, using Dr. Emmett Brown’s demand of 1.21 gigawatts …)
Beyond just scale, First Solar also is innovator in the alternative energy space, helping drive down the manufacturing cost of solar panels in an effort to make them more practical. It’s currently one of the cost leaders in the space, manufacturing at less than 75 cents per watt of capacity. Its gear also has attained the smallest carbon footprint and fastest energy payback time of any PV technology, according to company reports.
In short, First Solar is helping lead the solar energy industry from startup phase to a big player in the global energy economy. As America races with other nations like China to and provide “green-collar jobs” to this growing industry, FSLR is the perfect proxy for how solar, wind and other alternative energy businesses are doing.
Check out the complete list of Real America Index components, along with an interactive map of short-term and long-term returns.
Jeff Reeves is editor of InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the stocks named here. Follow him on Twitter via @JeffReevesIP and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook.