As the tragic and destructive forest fires ravage homes amid the dry weather in southern California, residents are being evacuated and power-lines are down. There are 21,154 Southern California Edison (SCE) customers in southern California under a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), while 386,116 are under consideration, according to the utility’s website. At least one stock is benefiting from the tragedy however.
Bleak as it appears, backup-generator maker Generac Holdings is soaring as power cuts in California become more expected. The stock opened at a new all-time high on Friday, and is up 85% for the year.
PG&E is currently navigating bankruptcy, and the company doesn’t appear to have an immediate fix for how to maintain power during times of high fire danger. So while PG&E stumbles, Generac could actually benefit handsomely.
“This caught us totally off guard. We didn’t see the largest utility in the US coming out and saying ‘look our only solution is to turn the power off,’” Generac Holdings CEO Aaron Jagdfeld said Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “The (PG&E) CEO came out I think a couple of days ago and said a decade, it could be 10 years, of this kind of activity.”
Jagdfeld said that while the previously mild weather in California has prevented it from being a significant revenue source for the company, the CEO has observed “three, four hundred percent increases in volumes out in California.”
And California is not the only state being brutalized by extreme weather patterns and a utility grid that often can’t maintain itself. Jagdfeld said that generators are also being sold at a breakneck pace in the North East as hurricanes and ice storms plague residents there.
The company also sells backup power used by wireless companies, which the California outages has shown to be a rapidly expanding space.
“What’s amazing is most people don’t realize, and I think people are learning right now in California, you can’t even get some of the basic services … I mean everyone uses a wireless device now, and those networks go dark when they don’t have power. We’re one of the largest suppliers of backup power to all of the major wireless carriers, but the penetration rates are still very low, less than 30%,” Jagfeld said.
First Trust RBA American Industrial Renaissance ETF (AIRR) has a nearly 3% stake in Generac, offering a way for ETF investors to play the stock.