A123 Systems Soars on IPO, but Why?
I think ABAT is a much better investment. With a market cap of $268 million, ABAT trades at only 13 times trailing 12 months'earnings. (yes, that's right, earnings). ABAT was recently awarded a $3.4 million contract for electric vehicles. Despite being a profitable way to play the lithium-ion/electric vehicle market, ABAT rose only 3% yesterday.
China Sun Group (CSGH) is in the testing phase on lithium iron phosphate, the same product that is giving A123 such a valuation boost. CSGH rose to a new 52-week high yesterday above $1.50 based on the A123 sentiment. CSGH is profitable, cash-rich and debt-free and trades at only nine times earnings.
Notice that A123 includes Black & Decker among its notable customers. Black and Decker is not a vehicle manufacturer, but a hand-held-device maker. As a result, comparing to other small-size lithium ion battery makers (i.e., batteries for hand-held devices) is also appropriate.
HPJ is a leading supplier of nickel metal hydride batteries, and is moving into the lithium ion space. After its recent 50% run-up, the company trades at 17 times earnings, but is profitable and debt free. HPJ rose as much as 10% yesterday.CMTP, now known as New Energy Systems Group, is profitable, cash rich and debt free and is rapidly expanding in the lithium ion space, but still trades at a P/E of only four times TTM earnings. CMTP also rose nearly 10% yesterday. A123 may have fantastic technology and a great client list, but until it can demonstrate a clear path toward sustainable profitability, I think it is meaningless as an investment. If A123 were a $100 million company with great prospects, it might be worth some kind of speculative punt. But at $900 million?! Don't feel bad about missing out on this IPO. In addition to TheStreet.com, I also can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also feel free to leave a comment on my columns by clicking on the button under the headline and below the article. Your comments will appear on the Web site.
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