On the one hand, a sharp halt in government subsidies throughout Europe is hurting the industry. Meanwhile, as competition increases between US, European, and Chinese companies, the price for panels continues to drop, which is a negative for manufacturers and a positive for companies who actually install the panels (a number of companies do both).
Throughout all this, demand for solar continues to increase. Last week saw the European Union announce a tariff hike on Chinese solar companies presumably in order to protect its own fragile industry from leaner and more aggressive foreign firms.
At the same time, there are fears that China’s relatively slower economy will affect its own government’s subsidies to the industry.
Finally, solar stocks moved last week, as they often do, almost as a herd. First Solar’s earnings and subsequent price drop had industry-wide repercussions, as a number of other solar companies were quick to follow suit. And then, by the end of the week a good deal of solar shares had returned to their impressive 2013 course of growth.
The following four companies were chosen based on market cap (small and mid-sized), moderate to extremely positive year-to-date growth, and quarter-over-quarter sales growth that of at least 5 percent.
SunPower Corporation (SPWR) – With a market cap of $ 2.17 billion and over 120 million outstanding shares, SunPower is a U.S. solar company involved mainly in providing energy for residential, commercial, and utility-scale power plants. Its stock has done incredibly well so far this year. Year-to-date, shares are up 220 percent, and have gained 21 percent over the past week to their current price of $18. SunPower’s quarter over quarter sales growth is currently at 28.60 percent.
Yingli Green Energy Holdings (YGE) – The Chinese Solar company is involved with photovoltaic products on a global scale and in all respects: design, manufacturing, assembly, sales and installation. Yingli has a market cap of $382.08 million, with shares up 3.8 percent year-to-date, and 7.5 percent this past week to the current trading price of $2.44. The company’s quarter over quarter sales growth is currently just over 13 percent.
First Solar Inc. (FSLR) – First Solar reported earnings last week indicating it missed earnings-per-share estimates by $0.06, with a corresponding drop in price of over $4 to $43.43 by Tuesday’s close. On Friday, however, FSLR closed with a gain of 4.72 percent to $49.34. The company’s market cap is larger than that of many of its peers in the industry at $4.33 billion, with shares up year-to-date nearly 60 percent, 7.26 percent over the past week. The company’s quarter-over-quarter sales growth is currently a whopping 52 percent.
SolarCity Corporation (SCTY) – SolarCity’s market cap is $2.17 billion, with shares currently trading at $28.88. SolarCity is up 142 percent in 2013, and nearly 7 percent in the past week alone, and the company enjoys quarter-over-quarter sales growth of 21.84 percent. SolarCity reports earnings later in the week, and investors should be aware that the company just announced a vastly expanded series of military projects for the near future.
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