Tesla Motors Plans Growth Using Referral Program

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n an effort to boost its auto sales, and to circumvent states with dealer franchise laws, Tesla Motors announced it will test a new social referral incentive program running through October 31, 2015.

Since Tesla doesn’t work with dealerships, and runs afoul of dealer franchise laws by selling directly to consumers in states like Texas, it has decided to test a referral program that passes the savings onto consumers.

According to Tesla Motors (TSLA) the cost to sell a car through one of their stores runs about $2,000 in building and operational costs. The referral program allows current Tesla owners to share a link with friends which will give the referral $1,000 off the purchase price when they order a new Model S before October 31. It also gives the current owner a $1,000 credit off their next purchase.

In addition, anyone making five referrals gets an invitation, along with a guest, to attend the Tesla Gigafactory grand opening brouhaha. If you hit ten referrals you get the option to purchase a new, fully-loaded Model X at the base price which amounts to a savings of about $25,000.

For Tesla Motors investors the question is will this move help achieve the company’s goal of 500,000 vehicles sold by 2020, of which 350,000 are forecast to be the more affordable Model 3 series which begins sales in 2017? Tesla reported sales of 10,030 vehicles in the first quarter of 2015.

With these numbers, they are going to need a lot of referrals.

Plug Power Inc. (PLUG) Small Cap Stock Watch

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The new client announcement of a yet unnamed big box retailer with over 100 distribution centers is enough to put Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG) on the TKO watch list.

The big news gave PLUG shares a modest gain of about 8% over the last week but the accompanying Q1 2015 financial results were a mixed bag that may have kept investors on the sideline.

Plug Power, Inc., a provider of hydrogen fuel technologies, supplies companies with alternative energy fuel cell systems. The new big box retail client has deployed a comprehensive GenKey system to power its material handling fleet in a Toledo, Ohio distribution warehouse. The installation included 177 GenDrive units for the forklift fleet, a hydrogen fuel supply and storage infrastructure, and a maintenance contract.

According to Plug Power, Inc. CEO Andy Marsh, the Toledo Ohio installation and contract keeps the company on schedule to meet its 2015 forecast of total sales exceeding $100 million. “This has provided us with a high level of confidence in meeting this year’s financial projections.” he proclaimed.

The 2015 Q1 financial report showed year-over-year increases of nearly 70% in total revenue and an improvement in overall comparable quarterly profit margins from -41% in 2014 to -22% in 2015. Overall it looks like PLUG is in sturdy financial condition with total cash exceeding $130 million and just over $3 million in debt reported in Q4 2014. With revenues growing all eyes are on PLUG’s profit margins which may be the key for a potential breakout.

Plug Power Inc. (PLUG) is currently trading at $2.63 per share with average 10-day volume reaching 3.8 million shares. The stock is just above a recent 52-week low of $2.32 and below a high of $6.47 a share in August 2014.

SolarCity Snatches Solyndra Plant For R&D HQ’s

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There is little doubt that SolarCity Corporation (SCTY) has managed phenomenal growth due to the massive dive in solar panel costs caused by large-scale Chinese manufacturing. However the glut of solar panels is starting to wane and SolarCity is making moves keep its current business model intact while adding a few new wrinkles.

First on the list is getting into the solar panel manufacturing business. To satisfy this goal SolarCity purchased Silevo, a manufacturer of high-efficiency Triex™ technology solar cells. In addition to Silevo, they have started construction of a 1 million square foot site in Buffalo, NY which will manufacture more than a gigawatt of solar capacity annually.

To accompany all these bold moves into solar manufacturing, SolarCity announced they will be leasing the old 200,000 sq. ft. Solyndra facility and use it primarily as a research and development headquarters for its solar “gigafactory” in Buffalo.

Another twist in this story is the connection between SolarCity and Tesla Motors (TSLA). Elon Musk, who sits on the board of SolarCity with cousins Lyndon Rive (CEO) and Peter Rive (CTO), are currently involved in a joint venture combining Tesla batteries with SolarCity panels to generate stand-alone power for residential homes. A test involving 500 homes in California is currently underway. The goal is to develop a dependable system with the ability to power a home for at least two days during a blackout, and to provide electrical power during high-cost or high-peak periods.

Of course, all this ties into the Musk storage battery “gigafactory” currently under construction in Nevada. It’s a win-win for both companies as they corner both the solar panel and storage battery market ensuring a steady supply of products as they ramp-up both businesses.

Not that either company needs any help. Currently SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) controls a whopping 39% of the solar installation market and Tesla Motors dominates when it comes to electric vehicles.

Undoubtedly, the success of an efficient solar power energy storage system is a game-changer for SolarCity and would boost revenues for the Tesla battery gigafactory. As both gigafactory’s go online, and costs eventually decline, green-lovers and grid-haters alike will line up for installations.

When you think about it, maybe solar roadways are a possibility after all.

Amyris, Inc. (AMRS) Stock Watch

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An upcoming earnings report scheduled for Feb. 24, 2015 has Amyris, Inc. (AMRS) on the TKO radar.

Amyris, Inc., an international renewable products company that provides alternatives to a wide range of petroleum-based products, recently launched a biopharma platform and announced plans to enter the industrial cleaning products market.

AMRS stock has taken a beating in the last 12 months dropping 60% from a high of $5.25 to a current $2.00 a share. The question is will Amyris, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMRS) find investors to end the current selling pressure with the coming fourth quarter and full year 2014 financial report?

Stay tuned TKO’ers!

OriginOil, Inc. (OOIL) Day Trader Alert

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OriginOil, Inc. (OOIL) has little problem keeping itself in the news cycle as witnessed by a flurry of recent press releases touting their EWS (Electro Water Separation) system, and the newly released Smart Algae Harvester.

Although the company’s technology is very interesting for green investors, OOIL financials aren’t. With sales of $166K in the last 12 months, $2.3 million of debt and $593K in cash, investors need to look forward quite a ways before tapping the buy button.

However, small cap day traders have enjoyed some nice swings over the last 6 months as OOIL stock has continued a slide from $0.24 to its current 52-week low of $0.08 a share. It also helps that OOIL has been a favorite for penny stock newsletters which undoubtedly has helped fuel volume in the last 10 months.

OriginOil, Inc. (OOIL) is definitely on the TKO radar as we continue to watch company financials. The technology offered by OriginOil, Inc. could quickly become a standard in the current green-crazed economy.