Yesterday, I read a post on SeekingAlpha.com about stocks of LED manufactures. The first time I read about LEDs was in an article in Scientific American, back when the magazine contained serious articles written by serious scientists about serious issues and developments in science and technology. The article referred to the work of CREE Research, which was an early innovator in LEDs, and became a leader in the field. CREE is sort of like the Intel of the LED lighting world. As an aside, Scientific American is also the first place I read about mixed-signal chips and another early innovator, Analog Devices, which also became the Intel of mixed-signal chips (I made some money on ADI, around the time when the accelerometer-on-a-chip was a new thing; air bags in cars, etc.)
As for my thoughts on investing in LEDs, here is what I wrote on SeekingAlpha.com:
From an investing standpoint, the problem I see with LED companies is that innovations become commodities very quickly, with lower-quality overseas knock-offs undermining both price and quality. The technology leaders spend the money to do the R&D and first commercialization, and then, the profit is gone, as the volume flows to discounters. The real game-changer will be the introduction of manufactured "lighting walls" and "lighting ceilings," made of panels installed during interior construction--analogous to manufactured insulation panels that are applied after the initial framing process. Perhaps, construction materials companies need to get into the LED lighting game, and change the lighting paradigm from "fixtures with bulbs" to "surfaces that illuminate."
Just as reminder (having written before on the subject), I stopped reading Scientific American when it became a political rag for stories on anthropomorphic climate change, the evils of GMO crops, and the wonders of human diversity.