Episode 0029: Generac (GNRC): How does the changing electrical grid impact the market for home standby generators?

When we first examined the home standby generator market, we were struck by what seems to be a unanimity of opinion that tremendous secular growth would be driven by homeowners increasingly discovering the benefits of having an automated system to supply electric power in times of outages.  It’s argued that penetration is low, and that loss of power is not only inconvenient, but uneconomic, for food spoils and families must seek alternative shelter.  Yet as we looked into the matter, we saw that there was smart grid technology available for deployment that could sharply reduce truck rolls necessary to restore power after storms have hit.  This could reduce both the number of outages and their average duration.  The Berkeley Lab published an exhaustive grid reliability study in August 2015, which we thought would shed light on the subject, but the report failed to ever mention this possible solution.  In quarterly earnings reviews, Generac management and institutional analysts covering this stock seemed to neither volunteer any information about the smart grid nor would they ask about it.  Is grid technology an existential threat to Generac’s business?  In this last segment of our discussion of Generac, we try to piece together this puzzling avoidance of what one would think is a crucial consideration for Generac shareholders.