Solar power is quickly moving from a once nonviable energy source to a real competitor for energy giants like the oil and coal industries. As evidence: Christy Walton’s part ownership of solar technology firm First Solar propelled her to a net worth of $40.7 billion, giving her the status of the wealthiest of all the billionaire heirs of Sam Walton, founder of Walmart Inc.
Most people know the Walton family holds the wealth of the Walmart empire and boasts the most billionaires of any family in the world. What most don’t know is the reason Christy Walton is the richest of them all and the world’s wealthiest woman: an investment her husband John made in a solar company in February 1999. John Walton died in a plane crash in 2005, leaving the bulk of his wealth to his wife Christy. By 2008, his investment of $150 million in First Solar had grown to $4 billion, an increase of almost 2,700%.
First Solar continues to grow. As analyst Jim Cramer explains in the Mad Money video below, First Solar’s stock rose 155% in 2013 with good reason. The company is the lowest cost manufacturer of solar modules and the largest manufacturer of solar farms in the U.S.
Cramer thinks First Solar is cheaper than the average stock on the S&P 500. The company predicts earnings of $26 per stock share for 2016, which Cramer thinks makes it an excellent buy.
In the video, Jim Cramer interviews Jim Hughes, First Solar CEO. Hughes explains that changes in the valuation of the company are thanks to updates to the firm’s business model. These updates have allowed the solar giant to appeal to a broader number of customers and dramatically improve their technology. More efficient materials have made it possible for first solar to produce experimental electricity production with 26% efficiency, unprecedented in the world of solar power at large. First Solar has achieved all this without subsidies.
First Solar has installed more than 10 gigawatts of solar power worldwide. They are the leading global provider of solar power solutions and they invest more in research and development than any other solar power company.
The takeaway? Solar power, once maligned as a nonviable technology that couldn’t compete against the power-producing might of energy sources like oil and coal, is now a real contender from a purely capitalist viewpoint.
- Why Sam’s Daughter-in-Law is the Wealthiest Walton – The Free Library