With the arrival of Earth Day today, many investors might be asking how they can do the right thing for the planet and still make a good investment.

The analysts comprising Canaccord Adams' sustainability practice, of which I am a part, provided insight on four companies that do exactly that: exploit green markets and offer substantial upside potential, in their opinion. 

Our research team believes the following four companies are leading beneficiaries of underlying trends focused on resource optimization and conservation:

Nalco (NLC: NYSE : $25.61 | BUY) capitalizes on climate change and water scarcity. I believe Nalco is fundamentally undervalued given powerful long-term secular global growth drivers including climate change and water scarcity. With a core competency in water treatment technology and an emerging presence in multi-pollutant air emission control, we continue to find the company uniquely positioned to benefit from an increasing focus on environmental impacts, while also providing critical productivity and process optimization solutions. 

Rubicon Technology (RBCN : NASDAQ : $25.98 | BUY, Best Idea) is a leading supplier of materials required for the manufacture of energy-efficient LED lighting.   My colleague, Jed Dorsheimer, who covers the company, says, "The company is a leading supplier of sapphire substrates to the LED market, with 25% market share based on our estimates. In our view, sapphire has become the clear bottleneck in the LED market based on the massive order trends over the past year of MOCVD tools, which is expected to continue."

NCI Building Systems (NCS : NYSE : $14.62 | BUY, Best Idea) is growing as a result of the shift toward green building practices in non-residential construction. Eric Prouty and Eric Glover cover NCI for Canaccord Adams and report, "We view NCI as an interesting play on the steady shift toward green building practices in nonresidential construction. Representing approximately 10-12% of all new nonresidential construction projects in the U.S., green building represents the most significant building movement today."

Newalta (NAL : TSX : C$8.89 | BUY) is a leader in waste management and recovery in Canada. Sara Elford, who covers the company for Canaccord Adams, says, "We continue to highlight Newalta Corporation as one of our top picks for 2010. Newalta is Canada's leading industrial waste management company, with a strategic focus on recovering products and recycling resources from industrial residues. On an annual basis, the company recovers roughly C$400 million worth of reusable products that would otherwise go to disposal."


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