Greentech stocks rebound, but only partially

After the great market sell-off yesterday, stocks are rebounding slightly on Tuesday, including many of the greentech stocks that took a beating yesterday. But most of them are only up slightly. Here’s the latest:

Greentech stocks crash in market sell-off, too

Tech stocks took a beating on Monday morning, the first day of trading after Standard & Poor downgraded the credit ratings of credit agencies. At the same time, greentech stocks — from solar to biofuels to smart grid — fell alongside the weak macro economic news.

Digi’s Quiet Smart Grid Play: From the Network to the Cloud

Quiet smart grid player Digi International is already providing networking for some of the best-known names in the industry, and it’s aiming to move into the emerging world of cloud-based smart grid services and applications as well.

Smart Grid Shopping: Itron Acquires Asais

Itron announced this morning that it plans to buy up French smart grid energy management and analytics company Asais. The deal shows how Itron continues to move beyond providing endpoints and hardware to selling end-to-end solutions, software and services.

Vid-Biz: BBC iPlayer, RealNetworks, Verizon VOD

Today on the Net: the BBC iPlayer gets an upgrade to hook it into more social networks, RealNetworks founder Rob Glaser gets a new gig as a part-time venture partner with Accel, and Verizon doubles the number of VOD titles that are available to FiOS customers

Some Utilities Considering Rejecting Smart Grid Stimulus Funds?

Updated: Smart meter maker Itron (s ITRI) reported better than expected fourth quarter and annual 2009 earnings late Wednesday. That wasn’t too shocking given Itron has been expected to turn around this year as it has started shipping significant volumes of smart meters to utilities. But what was surprising in the company’s conference call was this nugget that CEO Malcolm Unsworth let out about how some utilities might potentially be thinking about rejecting the smart grid stimulus funds because of certain tax restrictions. That was the first time I’ve heard that.

In response to a question from Stuart Bush, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets, about a debate among utilities over tax implications of the stimulus funds, Unsworth says:

Obviously, I can’t talk for what the utilities are discussing. We had some of those that actually have said that they – I think it was been public statements that they may turn it down because of certain restrictions or whatever. I really don’t know, but it’s going to be a case-by-case business, I’m assuming. So, we just work with our utility potential customers and work through as we go case-by-case.

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2010 Expected To Be a Breakout Year for Itron

Smart meter maker Itron (s ITRI) looks set to clean up in 2010. Being the leader of the U.S. smart meter market during a period that saw the largest investment in U.S. history (via the $4 billion in smart grid stimulus funds) will do that for a company. Smart grid analyst Jesse Berst last year explained Itron’s influence to me this way: A utility doesn’t do a large smart meter rollout without talking to Itron, period.

Analysts are predicting big things for the Liberty Lake, Wash.-based firm, which was founded back in 1977. This morning Pacific Crest analyst Ben Schuman upgraded Itron to Outperform with a price target of $86, and also increased his estimates for Itron’s 2010 annual revenue and earnings per share to $1.99 billion and $3.11, respectively, up from $1.96 billion in revenue and per-share earnings of $2.98.
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The Tech Vendors That Will Cash in on the Smart Grid Stimulus Funds

powergridgeneric8In a couple months the $3.4 billion in stimulus funds for smart grid projects will be doled out to about 100 utilities and cities. But the tech vendors — smart meter makers, network software developers, wireless sensor gear companies — will see those funds flow down in the form of contracts. While the ecosystem as a whole will benefit, here’s a breakdown of companies that we know already have a piece of these projects:

Meter Makers:

Itron (s ITRI): The largest meter maker, with more than 14 million smart meters under contract, Itron had some significant skin in the stimulus-funded game, including contracts with CenterPoint Energy (which snagged a $200 million award for 2.2 million smart meters), San Diego Gas and Electric ($28.12 million for wireless smart grid network), DTE Energy (s DTE) ($83.83 million for 660,000 smart meters and 300 smart appliances) and City of Glendale Water and Power ($20 million for 84,000 smart meters). As Malcolm Unsworth, Itron’s president and chief executive officer, put it in a release: “The industry has been waiting for this day and these announcements since early in 2009.”
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Lusting After the Phantom Miro eX

Online video distribution is exciting, but it wouldn’t be of much interest if the cameras weren’t also getting smaller, cheaper and more powerful all the time. The latest object of desire I’ve stumbled across is the recently released Phantom Miro eX from Vision Research. While the RED One camera offers incredible resolution, the Miro offers incredible shutter speeds — essential for high-speed photography. Think bullets destroying apples, super-duper-slo-mo slam dunks, and all sorts of visual trickery used in commercial productions.
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Yes, it’s a niche interest device that will probably only appeal to cinematographers working at a fairly high level (Vision’s cameras have been used for everything from the Super Bowl to Battlestar Galactica). But similar to computer processors, video processors like the CMOS chips used in the Phantom have a way of getting smaller, faster and cheaper at an incredible rate.
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