“It’s over 300% more efficient than rooftop solar panels… It generates electricity on any surface… And I recently infiltrated a university lab to see it work for myself…”
That’s how the teaser opens from Jeff Siegel for Green Chip Stocks Premium opens for us — and it certainly has gotten many of my delightful readers all hot and bothered. Like so many ads for this and other alternative energy investment newsletters, the implication is that there’s been a breakthrough and that this small micro-cap company can become the leader of the next generation of stock superstars.
And like most newsletters, this one seems to have employed the services of a first-rate storyteller in crafting their ad copy. Here’s how Siegel builds the excitement:
“For the past several months, I tried contacting the office of a very high-tech company.
“Rumors were spreading that this outfit – right outside Washington D.C. – somehow unlocked one of the largest sources of energy anywhere on earth.
“Not in a lab at MIT… Not on a deepwater rig… Not under the sand of an OPEC nation…
“… But in a tiny office building, across the street from a Starbucks and a KFC, near our nation’s capital.
“To give you an idea how much energy might be at this company’s fingertips, if the rumors were true, its systems could eventually capture more energy in a single month than Saudi Arabia will produce in the next 50 years!
“The breakthrough is what is called a solar window – on steroids.”
And this “solar window” is apparently a huge breakthrough, increasing efficiency, making installation cheap and easy, and it’s just a spray-on film that collects the electrical energy not just from sunlight, but from artificial light sources, too (they give the example of a streetlight — though of course, generating energy is a pretty silly and inefficient use of artificial light on general principle, since the person who pays the streetlight bill is essentially paying a dollar so you can generate a few cents of electricity, though I suppose you can make some argument about using light that would otherwise have been wasted).
The story of this exciting discovery by Siegel takes a turn when he stumbles across a press release, we’re told …
“If this company really could do what it claimed, it’s been kept it under tighter wraps than the alien landing at Roswell.
“I was beginning to have my doubts. And there was no way – without proof from my own eyes – I would dare recommend this company to any investor.
“I was about to toss it by the wayside.
“That is, until I came across an odd press release.
“Apprently, one of the company’s researchers would be holding an exclusive demonstration of their solar window inside a physics lab at a Florida University later that day.”
And so, as you can imagine, our intrepid teaser-meister took a trip down to this lab and paints the picture for us:
“The lab was standing room only.
“Physicists, company executives, a CNBC team, and a few ‘suspected buyers’ gathered shoulder-to-shoulder around a bisected home in the center of a dark room.
“At first glance, it looked like any other scaled down house.
“There were no rooftop panels… no wires… no tinted windows.
“But as the CEO explained shortly before the blinds went up, the windows were sprayed with the company’s one-of-a-kind solar formula.
“You couldn’t tell anything happened to them. They looked like regular windows you’d find on any house or office building.
“Then, the curtains went up, and the sun’s rays hit the windows.
“Immediately, lights inside the house turned on.
“As far as regular, expensive and boxy solar panels would be concerned, it was nothing special.
“Except there were no panels.
“And as the CEO quickly demonstrated, his company’s spray on solar cells weren’t only several times cheaper, and able to be applied at room temperature to ANY window instantly…
“… But this near-invisible solar spray is 300% more powerful than regular, expensive rooftop solar panels!”
So we’ll give a pass to the idea that this is some sort of hot secret, yet there was a CNBC team in the demonstration. Sounds pretty interesting, yes? Solar windows and solar film are the stuff of alt energy dreams, after all, a simple way to generate energy without big solar panels or heavy expenses to retrofit old homes and businesses.
And so we’ve seen some variations on this teaser that say that “Utilities will hate this company” … apparently because we just won’t need to buy power from them anymore. Here’s how Siegel puts it:
“Even in the short time since the demonstration, many think this window will single-handedly transform the energy market, making electric utility companies nearly obsolete… similar to what the PC and Windows did to typewriter companies like Brother and Smith Corona.”
And he says he thinks the stock is about to “go ballistic”, moving up to $4.31 or more in the coming years from the current 62 cents, creating gains of 595%.
He goes on to say that this will be in part because of the breakthroughs of this technology, and in part because of the recent renaissance in solar stocks that has investors searching for the next big thing.
So what is this company with it’s “solar glass” technology? Well, there are several companies working at developing similar technologies for building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV), but it seems clear that for this tease they’re talking about …
New Energy Technologies (trades over the counter at NENE)
And just to reinforce that assessment, the stock has already jumped up a good 15% or so this morning after the weekend of aggressive teasing by the Green Chip Stocks Premium folks. Not surprising, since it’s got a market cap of less than $50 million and usually trades just about 75,000 shares a day … but has seen over a million shares change hands already today. If you send this much attention pouring into a teensy stock, you’re not going to be able to prevent it from shooting skyward.
Even the attention from yours truly, though I have plenty of doubts about the company’s prospects, will probably spur the shares higher still — when a stock’s this small, just getting the word out makes it move, it sometimes seems as though it almost doesn’t matter what you say.
And of course, maybe Siegel’s right, maybe these guys will be to First Solar what IBM was to Smith Corona … I’m just not holding my breath.
For more information on the company, which did stage a demonstration of the technology in Tampa last month, you can certainly visit their website and poke around a little — this solar product of theirs is called SolarWindow, and their other project is called MotionPower (that one somehow generates energy by collecting extra kinetic energy from vehicles who are stopping at drive-thru windows and tollbooths).
I may not be the last person who could tell you which of the dozens of different nanoparticle-based thin film solar systems will end up being commercially viable — but I would be pretty close to the end of that line. All I can tell you is that all of these companies are losing money as far as I can tell (New Energy Techologies has accumulated about seven million dollars in losses so far, many of the other researchers in this area are private or nonprofit still, like EnSol in Norway, though some big solar companies are also doing R&D in the area) and will continue losing money for probably a long time before a commercially viable product is developed and sold in scale.
There’s no particular point in going through New Energy’s financials — all I really see is a list of accumulated costs that are being capitalized over time as they sell more stock and raise more money and book more losses in R&D, salaries, and administrative and investor relations expenses. Doesn’t mean that can’t turn around at some point, or that they mightn’t have a big solar company swoop in and buy them up for the technology, just that the main reason to watch the books right now is to see when they’re likely to need to raise more money.
The idea for this technology is not new, having been kicked around for over a decade and given a kick start from nanotechnology developments in the last five years or so, but it has proven a tough nut to crack. New Energy Technologies has a research agreement with the University of South Florida that gives them exclusive license to this technology if it becomes commercially viable, but they also have had similar research agreements in the past with Oakland University and the University of Illinois, and those agreements were cancelled according to their last 10-K, for what reason I don’t know.
That’s not to say that you can’t make money from early stage technology companies, of course, just that you’re not going to be making money because they’re making money — this company, like many, is still proving its technology and trying to develop a commercial product, the stock may well move based on the recommendations of fairly high-volume newsletter folks like Jeff Siegel, but those moves aren’t going to be predictable (unless you happen to know what Siegel will say, and when he’ll say it … and even then, no guarantees). Like most stocks where the teaser writer promises lottery-like returns, it’s worth remembering that yes, most lottery tickets get torn up and thrown in the street in front of the 7-11.
I don’t know what will happen with this company, and to a layperson the technology for both their products looks really cool … but that’s not enough reason for your friendly neighborhood Gumshoe to plunk down the college fund on this gamble. If I look more deeply into the company and change my mind, I’ll let you know — and you can do the same with a comment below.
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