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Light Up Your Portfolio with Energy Efficient Bulbs

Acuity Brand (NYSE: AYI) released its first quarter 2012 results Monday morning, which beat analysts' estimates.

The lighting solutions company reported first quarter earnings per share of $0.74 on revenues of $474.3 million. The general consensus estimate for earnings were $0.67 on revenues of $466.1 million. Net sales of $474.3 million is an increase of approximately 12% compared to the same period last year.

The year-over-year growth in fiscal 2012 first quarter sales was due to an approximate 7% increase in unit volume, 3% from acquisitions, and 2% from the net impact of improved pricing that was partially offset by an unfavorable mix of products sold. The increase in unit volume was across most product categories and key sales channels in North America.

Commenting on the positive quarter Vernon J. Nagel, President and CEO said, “We are very pleased with our fiscal 2012 first quarter results as we continue to perform extremely well in this demanding and competitive environment. We continue to execute our strategies, including the introduction of new and more energy-efficient lighting solutions, to extend our leadership position in North America. Contributing to our year-over-year top-line growth was a 150 percent increase in sales of LED products, which now represent more than 5 percent of total net sales."

A 150% increase in LED bulbs is a major tell that consumer are buying these new, energy efficient bulbs, despite the high price tag, when they replace their incandescent bulbs.

There is no question the LED bulbs are brighter, but more importantly, they are more efficient and could save you money in the long-term.

You can purchase these bulbs at most retailers, including Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowes (NYSE: LOW) for $25. While this is definitely more money than an incandescent, but with lighting, it's about total cost of ownership.

Consumers will pay more money up front, but it saves money over the life of the lamp. Most incandescent bulbs last six months to a year and cost about $1.50 per bulb. LED's have been rated to last 20-25 years. So it is cheaper to buy the $25 bulb one time which will last 25 years, than buying 25-35 bulbs over the same period at $1.50.

Not only is it cheaper at a fixed cost basis, but it also saves you money as LEDs are more energy efficient.

Commenting on the future of Acuity Brands, Mr. Nagel said, “We remain very positive about the future prospects for our company, particularly as we become more diversified and less reliant on new building construction for growth. We believe our diversification strategy, which includes providing high quality, energy-efficient lighting solutions for all types of renovation, has allowed us to achieve volume growth for seven consecutive quarters in spite of weak new construction. We continue to position the Company to deliver short-term performance while investing in and deploying resources to further our longer-term profitable growth opportunities."

Even the Times Square New Year's Eve ball went through these changes. The 2012 ball reduced its normal energy usage by 88%.

Ed Crawford, CEO of Philips (NYSE: PHG) Lamp Lighting System commented on the New Year's Eve bulb, "The new ball... uses 88% less electricity. So when we talk about the expense of lighting products, we typically talk about how much it costs to buy them, but really, the important thing is how much it costs to run them."

So even if you do or do not plan on buying LED bulbs, an increase of 150% in the LED business of Aucity Brands, is something any investor should take notice to.


ACTION ITEMS:

Bullish:
Traders who believe that LED bulbs are a growing industry, you might want to consider the following trades:
  • Long stocks or buy call options in companies that deal with lighting products, mainly LED products like Acuity Brands (NYSE: AYI) or LSI Industries (NASDAQ: LYTS).
  • Long stocks or buy call options in companies that service electronic products like Cooper Industries (NYSE: CBE).
Bearish:
Traders who believe that LED's are still too costly and won't drive demand until prices come down; you may consider alternative positions:
  • Short companies or buy put options in companies that deal with lighting products, mainly LED products like Acuity Brands (NYSE: AYI) or LSI Industries (NASDAQ: LYTS).
  • Long shares of General Electric (NYSE: GE) as they are a major manufacture of incandescent bulbs. They obviously make LED products, but if demand remains in incandescent bulbs, they are diversified enough not to be hurt.
Neither Benzinga nor its staff recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security. We do not offer investment advice, personalized or otherwise. Benzinga recommends that you conduct your own due diligence and consult a certified financial professional for personalized advice about your financial situation.

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