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The Apple of Wind Power?

A discussion of wind-power stocks on Mad Money during CNBC’s eco-focused Green Week might seem inevitable. Especially since we’ve already covered the solar and nuclear industries. But Cramer would never recommend a stock just for the sake of satisfying the corporate brass (even though he is a team player). So you know that when he says Trinity Industries is a buy, he means it. After all, this company looks a lot like Apple did just before the iPod took over the MP3-player market.

Trinity’s known for building rail cars. That’s why Cramer gave the stock a thumbs-down during yesterday’s Lightning Round. He didn’t like TRN as a short-term earnings play on that business. But Trinity’s a lot more than just rails, he’s realized. In fact, it’s the largest manufacturer of wind towers in the U.S. And wind is a cheap alternative-energy source that could see a steady rise in prominence if a Democrat takes the White House.

Cramer’s mistake – thinking of Trinity as only a rail-car company – is the same one analysts made with Apple back in 2002. They assumed the Cupertino, Calif., firm was a PC maker dabbling in MP3 players, overlooking Apple’s move from tech stock to “it” brand. Soon enough, Mac addicts were clamoring to get iPods in ever color available and frothing at the mouth over the coming iPhone. Trinity may be about to make the same leap, moving way beyond its most recognized business.

Wind should jump to 10% of Trinity’s revenues this year, from 6% in 2007. And the company expects its $750 million backlog of business to climb as high as $900 million in five year’s time. That might be enough to propel TRN to the top of the industry, Cramer said.

Here’s the caveat, though: A wind-power tax credit will expire at the end of 2008 unless Democrats and Republicans can agree on a way to fund an extension – and talks haven’t been going well. But, again, a Democratic win in November could be the impetus needed to make the tax credit permanent.

The key to Trinity, Cramer said, is recognizing the company it could become is so much bigger than the business TRN is right now. So a little bit of vision could make you some mad money.

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