North Coast Solar Stocks

May 30, 2008

Yingli Green Energy signs sales contract

Filed under: YGE — Tags: , , — Jason @ 6:28 pm

Friday May 30, 6:23 pm ET

Yingli Green Energy signs sales contract with S.A.G. to supply photovoltaic modules

NEW YORK (AP) — China-based Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd., which makes photovoltaic products, said Friday it signed a sales contract with S.A.G. Solarstrom Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH, a solar power company.

Under the terms of the deal, Yingli said it will supply 5.75 MW of photovoltaic modules to S.A.G. from June to September.

The company said the modules are expected to be installed in S.A.G.’s projects in Italy.

Yingli said the agreement was the company’s eighth contract with S.A.G.

Yingli shares rose 64 cents, or 3.2 percent, to close at $20.58.

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ReneSola files to sell American depositary shares

Filed under: SOL — Tags: , — Jason @ 5:10 pm

Fri May 30, 2008 5:10pm EDT

WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) – ReneSola Ltd (SOL), a Chinese maker of solar wafers, on Friday said it plans to sell about 8.1 million American depositary shares.

Some shareholders plan to sell about another 850,000 shares for a total offering of 9 million ADSs, representing 18 million common shares, according to an offering document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank Securities are the underwriters, according to the SEC filing.

Solar cos. up on German tariff cut

Filed under: ENER, FSLR, SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 12:14 pm

Friday May 30, 12:14 pm ET

Solar power companies rise on prospects for continuing German subsidies of the sector

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of solar power companies rose Friday after German lawmakers reached a tentative agreement on a milder reduction in state subsidies than some investors had feared.

Before dawn Friday, lawmakers agreed to cut the nation’s so-called feed-in tariff that obliges utilities to buy electricity from solar sources at fixed, above-market rates for 20 years. The subsidy has made Germany a magnet for solar energy investors.

Members of Germany’s ruling coalition agreed to cut the feed-in tariff on roof-mounted solar panels by 8 percent in 2009 and 2010 and 9 percent for each subsequent year. That pre-empted efforts by fiscal conservatives who wanted cuts of more than 25 percent beginning next year.

Parliament is expected to approve the ruling coalition’s agreement.

Citi Investment Research analyst Timothy M. Arcuri praised the development.

“Germany is the biggest market for (photovoltaic) power systems, accounting for nearly half of installations in 2007,” Arcuri wrote in a client note. “As mentioned earlier, the new tariff structure, if approved by parliament, is a little better than our and market expectations so this should be a near-term positive for the sector.”

Piper Jaffray analyst Torben Sommer responded by urging clients to “buy the sector.”

And Thomas Weisel Partners analyst Jeff Osborne said, “The increasing clarity in rates should ease some concerns of a massive cut creating visibility for investors.”

In midday trading, shares of solar companies with the most exposure to the German market rose: First Solar Inc. rose $20.68, 8.2 percent, to $272.78; Energy Conversion Devices Inc. rose $6.40, or 11.8 percent, to $61.10; and SunPower Corp. rose $5.25, or 6.9 percent, to $81.25.

Abu Dhabi firm to buy Applied Materials products

Filed under: AMAT — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:42 am

Friday May 30, 9:36 am ET

Applied Materials selling 3 thin-film solar module production lines to Abu Dhabi company

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Applied Materials Inc., which makes equipment for producing solar modules, said Friday it will sell at least three production lines to Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co.

Terms of the deal for three SunFab Thin Film Lines were not disclosed. They are expected to annually produce modules with a capacity of 210 megawatts that can power about 70,000 homes.

One of the lines will be located in Erfurt, Germany, and is expected to start up in the second half of 2009.

The other two will be located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and are expected to start up in early 2010.

Applied Materials shares rose 5 cents to $19.68 in morning trading.

Solar Thin Films Partners with China Singyes Holding to Establish 100MW Module Manufacturing Facility in China

Filed under: SLTZ — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:00 am

Friday May 30, 8:00 am ET

Agreement Opens New Markets and Customer Channels for Solar Thin Films

DIX HILLS, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Solar Thin Films, Inc. (SLTN.OB), a developer, manufacturer and marketer of manufacturing equipment for the production of “thin-film” amorphous silicon and CIGS photovoltaic modules, has signed a memorandum of understanding (“MOU”) with China Singyes Holding Limited to build out 100MW of module manufacturing capacity in China. Under the MOU, Solar Thin Films will supply equipment, technology and general engineering and design support, and retain certain rights outside of China to market and distribute building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products.

“This proposed arrangement with China Singyes could be a significant step forward in our goal to become a leader in supplying cost-effective, thin film photovoltaic module manufacturing equipment,” commented Peter Lewis chief executive officer of Solar Thin Films.. Combined with our recently announced $12.3 million order from Grupo Unisolar, S.A to build a 5MW turn-key a-SI Module plant in Spain, it clearly shows the progress we are making.

“Pursuant to the MOU, Solar Thin Films expects to install cost-effective thin-film photovoltaic manufacturing equipment through 2011. Equipment installation is expected to commence as early as the fourth quarter of 2008. The initial production and sale of BIPV products could begin in 2009,

“This is a terrific opportunity for us as China Singyes is one of the country’s largest curtain wall engineering companies, with numerous projects inside and outside China, and a demonstrated commitment to expand an already existing presence in the solar field,” concluded Lewis. “Our rights to market BIPV output from the new facility outside of China would also open new customer channels and markets for us within the construction industry.”

Solar Thin Films and China Singyes are currently minority shareholders and board members of CG Solar, a “thin-film” module manufacturing company located in Weihai, China, that utilizes equipment produced by Solar Thin Films.

Applied Materials Selected by Abu Dhabi’s Masdar to Build 210MW of Solar Module Production Capacity

Filed under: AMAT — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 7:30 am

Friday May 30, 7:30 am ET

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As part of its Masdar Initiative, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co. is significantly expanding its investment in solar energy by contracting with Applied Materials to purchase three SunFab™ Thin Film Lines for producing solar modules. With an optional tandem junction upgrade, these SunFab lines are expected to annually produce modules with a targeted capacity of up to 210 megawatts (MW), or enough energy to power approximately 70,000 homes.

“The Masdar Initiative is focused on ensuring that renewable energies play a key role in the energy portfolio that the world needs now and into the future. We are doing this by applying scale, capital and commitment to the most promising technologies to accelerate the rapid adoption of renewable energy,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. “We are pleased to be working with Applied Materials.”

The Applied SunFab Line is the only integrated production line for manufacturing thin film silicon solar modules using ultra-large 5.7m2 glass panels. Ideally suited for utility-scale applications, these 2.2m x 2.6m panels can reduce installation cost by over 17% compared to smaller scale thin film panels. The SunFab line is designed to deliver leading-edge manufacturing capability with the world’s most advanced engineering and equipment.

One of the SunFab lines to be supplied by Applied will be located in Erfurt, Germany, and is expected to start up in the second half of 2009. The other two lines will be located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and are expected to start up in early 2010. These lines will help supply solar power to Masdar City, the world’s first zero carbon, zero waste city, designed to be fully powered by renewable energy, and also will help support the broader global need for clean sources of energy.

“Abu Dhabi Future Energy is leveraging its substantial resources and expertise in global energy markets to bring the first major photovoltaic manufacturing capability to the Middle East,” said Dr. Mark Pinto, senior vice president and general manager of Applied’s Energy and Environmental Solutions Group. “We are very excited to be part of Abu Dhabi’s vision for the future in accelerating the adoption of solar energy to decrease the cost of electricity.”

May 28, 2008

Abu Dhabi to invest $2 billion in solar venture

Filed under: AMAT, FSLR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 2:20 pm

by Todd Woody
GreenWombat

In the world’s single-largest investment in solar technology, the oil-rich emirate of Abu Dhabi announced Wednesday it will spend $2 billion to jumpstart a home-grown photovoltaics industry. The cash will fund what is undoubtedly the planet’s best-financed startup, Masdar PV, which will build manufacturing facilities in Germany and Abu Dhabi to produce thin-film solar modules that can be used in rooftop solar systems or solar power plants.

Masdar PV is the latest project of the Masdar Initiative, Abu Dhabi’s $15 billion renewable energy venture designed to transform the emirate into a green technology powerhouse. Masdar is best known for its plans to build Masdar City, a “zero-carbon, zero-waste” urban center.

Thin-film solar cells are essentially “printed” on glass or flexible metals, allowing them to be integrated into building materials like roofs and walls. Though thin-film solar is less efficient at converting light into electricity, it uses a fraction of the expensive silicon needed by conventional bulky solar modules and can be produced much more cheaply – provided economies of scale are achieved.

Thus Masdar PV’s big solar bet. “You have to be working at scale to drive costs out of the system,” Steve Geiger, Masdar’s director of special projects, told Fortune in a phone call from Abu Dhabi. “We have to do it at scale and we have to do it in volume in multiple markets.”

One of those markets is the United States, where Masdar PV could give established players like First Solar (FSLR) and startups such as Nanosolar, Heliovolts and Global Solar some formidable competition.

The gamble Masdar PV is taking is that it’s investing billions in an older but proven thin-film technology that may well be left in the dust by more exotic, cheaper and efficient technologies under development by a host of startups.

Masdar PV aims to have a gigawatt of annual production capacity in place by 2014. To get there, Geiger says the company has hired a management team that includes former top executives from First Solar and other thin-film industry veterans.

A leading solar technology company that Geiger declined to identify will provide the manufacturing equipment for Masdar PV’s factories. Judging from his description, the likely supplier is Applied Materials (AMAT), the world’s biggest computer-chip equipment maker that has a burgeoning business building the machines that make thin-film solar cells of the type that Masdar PV will produce.

“We usually partner with large companies that have managerial skills, technology and market access, but we were very fortune that we picked up a top management team and thought it was strong enough to do as a 100% Abu Dhabi Masdar company,” says Geiger, who will oversee Masdar’s thin-film solar venture.

Masdar PV’s first plant is scheduled to go online in Germany toward the end of 2009 with the second to begin production in Abu Dhabi by mid-2010. “Very clearly we need to look at expansion beyond those two physical facilities,” Geiger says. “We really have to look at America and the Asian markets as well.

Thin-film is just one of three solar strategies that Masdar is pursuing by funneling petrodollars into green energy startups. In March, Masdar unveiled Torresol Energy, a joint venture with a Spanish company that will build large-scale solar thermal power plants to supply electricity to utilities. Masdar has also made investments in other solar thermal companies as well as thin-film startups pursuing different technologies. Finally, Masdar wants to produce polysilicon, the basic material of conventional solar cells.

As Masdar chief Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber recently told Green Wombat, “We want to cover the whole value chain – from research to labs to manufacturing to the deployment of technologies.”

Geiger uses an analogy for Masdar’s green energy ambitions that may be more familiar to petroleum-dependent Americans – and should serve as a wake-up call to get serious about carbon-free energy. “The model might be the vertically integrated oil industry,” he says. “It clearly makes sense to have a consolidated power provider.”

Yingli Green Energy reveals polysilicon purchase

Filed under: YGE — Tags: , , — Jason @ 2:00 pm

Wednesday May 28, 1:59 pm ET

Yingli Green Energy signs deal to buy polysilicon from Sailing New Energy Resources

NEW YORK (AP) — Chinese solar module maker Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. said Wednesday it will buy polysilicon from Sailing New Energy Resources Co. Ltd.

Terms of the supply contract were not disclosed.

Polysilicon is the main ingredient in solar, or photovoltaic, cells. A current undersupply of the material has caused prices to rise recently.

Sailing, based in Chongqing, China, will supply polysilicon to Yingli Green Energy from the fourth quarter of 2008 through the end of 2010.

The total amount of polysilicon to be supplied under this contract will allow Yingli Green Energy to produce a total of 160 megawatts to 200 megawatts of photovoltaic modules.

A one-megawatt plant running continuously at full capacity can power 778 households each year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Shares of Yingli rose 32 cents to $21.47 in afternoon trading.

Germany may cut aid to solar sector

Filed under: ENER, ESLR, FSLR, SPWR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 2:00 pm

Wednesday May 28, 1:57 pm ET

Germany’s possible cut in incentives to solar companies sends some shares lower

NEW YORK (AP) — The possibility that Germany may accelerate its reduction in aid to solar power companies sent some of their shares lower Wednesday.

The nation’s so-called feed-in tariff obliges utilities to purchase electricity from solar sources at fixed, above-market rates for 20 years. Each year that the law — which has made Germany a world leader in development of solar power — is in effect, the size of the tariff declines.

Recently, though, some federal lawmakers have expressed concern that the tariff will cost taxpayers upward of $189 billion by 2035. Thus, among other changes, they propose that the existing 15 percent reduction in the tariff scheduled for 2010 be enlarged to 25 percent, Calyon Securities (USA) analyst George Kotzias said in a client note.

The companies with the most exposure to Germany and therefore the most at risk are, in diminishing order, First Solar, Energy Conversion and SunPower, Kotzias said.

Officials at those three companies weren’t immediately available for comment.

In afternoon trading shares of First Solar fell $1.16 to $264, shares of Energy Conversion fell 37 cents to $54.97 and shares of SunPower fell $1.90, or 2.3 percent, to $80.59.

Kotzias also said the least affected stock he covers would be Evergreen Solar, shares of which rose 31 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $10.91.

Analyst rates MEMC a ‘Buy,’ sees strong demand

Filed under: WFR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 11:35 am

Wednesday May 28, 11:35 am ET

Analyst says MEMC will benefit from high prices and strong demand over next 18 to 24 months

NEW YORK (AP) — An analyst on Wednesday set a “Buy” rating on shares of silicon wafer maker MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., predicting high silicon prices and strong demand over the next year and a half to two years would give it a boost.

Kaufman Brothers analyst Theodore O’Neill started covering the stock with price target of $80 per share, which implies MEMC stock will rise 17.8 percent over the next year. The stock last traded above $80 on March 27.

Shares of the St. Peters., Mo., company rose 48 cents to $68.37 in morning trading.

Semiconductor and solar panel makers need MEMC’s purified silicon wafers, O’Neill said. Prices are high because silicon makers have been unable to keep up with rapidly increased demand from the solar industry, and O’Neill said wafer makers are only starting to add new production capacity.

He added that that expansion may still fall short of demand in 2009, particularly if oil prices reach $200 per barrel. While capacity expansion may prove difficult for some companies, O’Neill said MEMC will not have that problem.

Akeena Solar rises premarket

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:10 am

Wednesday May 28, 9:07 am ET

Akeena Solar shares rise premarket as Kaufman starts at ‘Buy,’ predicts higher solar demand

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Akeena Solar Inc. rose in premarket trading Wednesday after an analyst started coverage of the solar power company at “Buy” and predicted its shares would more than double in a year.

Kaufman Brothers analyst Theodore O’Neill said in a note to investors late Tuesday that demand for residential solar power is growing in the U.S., particularly as oil prices rise. He set a 12-month price target of $12.

In addition, Akeena’s products are quicker to install and more visually attractive than its competitors’, which means the company can more easily build brand loyalty, he said.

Further, the company is likely to benefit from lower raw materials prices and may soon be an acquisition target.

In addition, shares appear to be underpriced and poised for a rebound, he said. The shares have contracted 65 percent from a 52-week high of $16.80.

Shares of Akeena gained 21 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $6.10 in premarket trading. The stock closed at $5.89 on Tuesday.

May 27, 2008

Suntech Powers Up Its Solar Wafer Supply

Filed under: CSIQ, SOL, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 5:35 pm

Melinda Peer, 05.27.08, 5:35 PM ET

Suntech is improving its wafer supply in hopes of becoming a leading manufacturer of solar modules.

On Tuesday, Suntech Power Holdings bought a $98.0 million stake in Shunda Holdings, a China-based solar wafer manufacturer. Details of the minority acquisition weren’t disclosed except that the stake was purchased from Actis, a private equity investor in solar markets, and Waichun Investment Fund.

Suntech also signed a 13-year silicon wafer supply agreement with a Shunda subsidiary on Tuesday for an annual supply of silicon wafers with total volume of seven gigawatts through 2020.

“We believe that these transactions accelerate Suntech’s path to grid parity and significantly enhance Suntech’s long-term cost competitiveness through better pricing and volume allocations,” said Suntech chairman, Dr. Zhengrong Shi, adding that the investment was made possible by funds raised through a convertible notes offering.

Suntech was drawn to Shunda because of the proximity and capacity of the company’s new polysilicon plant, currently under construction in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, where it will begin producing solar-grade polysilicon.

Suntech said that although the silicon wafers supplied by Shunda this year won’t be initially significant to overall supply, they replace expensive spot market silicon.

“With this long-term agreement, we are able to increase our silicon secured for 2009 by 50 megawatts to 800 megawatts of silicon with an average cost more than 20.0% below our average cost of silicon in 2007,” Suntech said. Silicon is often measured by how many watts of power it can provide. One megawatt, which is equal to one million watts, can power about 1000 homes at any given time.

Suntech’s stock lost 93 cents, or 2.0%, closing Tuesday’s session at $45.96 a share. The company, which designs, develops and manufactures solar products for electric power applications in the residential, commercial, industrial and public utility sectors, has struggled in the past few months to secure sufficient polysilicon supplies, as have other solar energy companies. Polysilicon is used to make the light-converting cells that are widely-used within the solar energy industry.

On May 15, ReneSola signed a six-year 525 megawatt wafer supply agreement with Gintech Energy and Canadian Solar recently began supplementing its long-term wafer supply agreements with internal solar wafer and cell production.

Canadian Solar said if its long-term supply contracts are met, it would have access to 200 megawatts worth of polysilicon and wafers in 2009.

“Based on our strong position as a worldwide photovoltaic solar module supplier and the expansion plans of our strategic partners, we believe that we should be able to secure an additional 200 megawatts of regular polysilicon and wafers, thereby enabling us to produce approximately 400 megawatts of regular photovoltaic solar modules,” the company projected in its May 13 first-quarter earnings report.

On May 23, Suntech said first quarter earnings roughly doubled. Merriman Curhan Ford Analyst Brion Tanous reiterated his buy rating on the company and said the it was poised to become “the largest solar photovoltaic module producer in the world.”

“The company’s supply of polysilicon is improving and lower prices are expected to positively impact margins starting in mid-2008,” Tanous said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Applied Materials up as technology is demonstrated

Filed under: AMAT, FSLR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 11:50 am

Tuesday May 27, 11:48 am ET

Applied Materials shares rise as turn-key, thin-film manufacturing technology proves itself

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Applied Materials Inc., which makes equipment for producing thin-film polysilicon, rose Tuesday after it demonstrated it could rapidly build manufacturing capacity for a key solar energy customer.

Applied Materials completed a thin-film polysilicon manufacturing facility for Signet Solar Inc. near Dresden, Germany, in three months, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey analyst Mehdi Hosseini said Tuesday in a client note.

On Friday, Signet Solar announced the production — using the newly built Applied Materials facility — of a thin-film polysilicon module that is about seven times larger than the average size.

The quick construction “can help refute the ‘bear’ argument and finally establish Applied Materials as a real and significant “turn key” (thin-film) solution provider to the solar industry,” the analyst said.

Shares of Applied Materials rose 48 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $19.41 in late morning trading. Earlier in the session, shares were up 3 percent to $19.49.

Hosseini also said the successful Signet job is “relatively negative for such competitors (of Signet) as First Solar Inc.”

Shares of First Solar fell $10.05, or 3.6 percent, to $268.17.

May 22, 2008

Suntech Power net income doubles, beats target

Filed under: STP — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 5:07 pm

By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch
Last update: 5:06 p.m. EDT May 22, 2008

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) – Suntech Power Holdings Co. on Thursday issued a bright 2008 forecast for its silicon solar panel manufacturing business and said its first-quarter net income doubled.

Suntech (STP) earnings rose to $55.8 million, or 33 cents a share, from $26.1 million, or 16 cents, in the year-ago period.

Adjusted net for the latest period was 35 cents a share, ahead of the forecast of 29 cents a share in a survey of analysts by FactSet.

Revenue climbed 76% to $434.5 million, beating the Wall Street target by $51 million.

The Wuxi, China, and San Francisco company said consolidated gross margin widened to 22.2% from 19% in the year-ago period.

Shares of Suntech fell almost 3% to $44.95 on Thursday. The stock hit a 52-week high of $90 a share on Jan. 3.

Looking ahead, Suntech said it’s on track to hit its target of one gigawatt of photovoltaic cell production capacity by the end of 2008.

“We executed extremely well during the first quarter, despite the impact of the snowstorm, to deliver stronger-than-expected growth in net revenues and solid financial results,” Chairman and CEO Zhengrong Shi said.

“A vigorous demand environment in the major solar markets in Germany and Spain as well as in the emerging markets including South Korea and Italy drove strong pricing during the quarter,” Shi said. “We expect demand to remain robust through 2008 and are virtually sold out for the full year.”

Suntech forecast second-quarter revenue of $430 million to $440 million, compared with the Wall Street target of about $434 million.

Suntech reiterated its 2008 revenue target of $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion.

“Suntech expects that greater quantities of reasonably priced silicon will become increasingly available from mid-2008,” the company said.

Steve Gelsi is a reporter for MarketWatch in New York.

Evergreen Solar soars on factory startup

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:20 pm

By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch
Last update: 4:20 p.m. EDT May 22, 2008

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Evergreen Solar surged 20% Thursday as the solar panel maker announced $1 billion in contracts after a challenging start-up of its new factory north of Boston.

Evergreen Solar (ESLR) rallied to $10.92, adding more than $300 million in market cap to a total level of $1.33 billion.

The company said it signed two long-term sales contracts for solar panels, and as a result has new a contractual backlog of about $1 billion.

Evergreen Solar signed a pact with Germany-based Ralos Vertriebs GmbH valued at about $750 million for panel deliveries beginning in 2008 and extending through 2013.

Evergreen said it also inked a contract with a U.S.-based installer.

Evergreen said the solar panels for these two contracts will be manufactured at the company’s Devens, Mass. facility, which will begin panel production in about a month.

CFO Michael El-Hillow said the plant startup proved to be challenging, but the company is on track to employ 1,000 in Massachusetts in 2009, triple its current base.

The new facility will bring to bear about 160 megawatts of capacity, currently selling for about $3.70 per watt.

El-Hillow said about 35% of the new factory capacity is now booked, with about 15% to 25% more capacity ear-marked for yet-to-be-announced long-term contracts and the rest for short-term customers.

Analysts expect Evergreen Solar to report about $122 million in revenue this year, $394 million in 2009 and $685 million in 2010, according to a survey of FactSet Research.

S&P said the new contracts more than double Evergreen Solar’s previous backlog of approximately $850 million.

“We think this added scale will benefit Evergreen Solar and also provide needed diversity to its customer base,” S&P said as it reiterated its buy rating on the stock.

Steve Gelsi is a reporter for MarketWatch in New York.

Evergreen Solar Shines After $1 Billion in Orders

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 3:17 pm

By Dan Burrows
May 22, 2008

The Company

Evergreen Solar (ESLR)
Share price as of Wednesday’s close: $9.10
Share price now: $10.92
Percent change: 20%
Volume: 47.5 million, daily average 5.6 million

The News

It was a bright and shiny morning for Evergreen Solar (ESLR). Shares in the maker of solar panels were lit up by more than 33% at one point early in Thursday’s session after the company announced $1 billion worth of new contracts.

Evergreen, of Marlboro, Mass., inked a deal Wednesday with German-based Ralos Vertriebs, a major European installer of solar power systems. The contract ensures that Evergreen will ship about $750 million in solar panels between now and 2013. That deal follows a contract signed last week with an undisclosed U.S. installer worth around $250 million.

As a result, Evergreen now has a new order backlog in the $1 billion-range. And that’s in addition to previous agreements worth $850 million. To put that in perspective, last fiscal year the company recorded revenue of $70 million.

The Analysis

The panels for the new contracts will be made at Evergreen’s new factory in Devens, Mass., and that could be a boost to yields and margins. The Devens plant uses a more efficient, next-generation process called “quad-ribbon” technology. It also employs a so-called lights-out process that requires little human intervention.

The patented process is supposed to offer Evergreen a significant advantage over competitors since it uses about 30% less silicon — the key raw material — in the manufacture of solar panels. The new quad-ribbon process further reduces waste, which should create cost savings and expand margins. The latest contracts suggest that Evergreen’s Devens facility is off to a good start.

“This contract announcement is in-line with our view that access to low-cost silicon and significantly lower-than-average cost structure should offer Evergreen Solar the ability to enter into forward price contracts and lock in [average selling prices], a distinctive competitive advantage in the current uncertain ASP environment,” wrote Lehman Brothers analyst Vishal Shah, who rates shares at Equal Weight (Hold, essentially).

(more…)

Suntech earnings beat forecasts, output to grow

Filed under: STP — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 11:53 am

Thu May 22, 2008 11:53am EDT

By Matt Daily

NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) – Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) posted higher-than-expected quarterly earnings Thursday on robust demand for renewable energy sources, and said plans to raise its output of solar cells remain on track.

First-quarter net income was $55.8 million, or 33 cents per share, compared with $26.09 million, or 16 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 76 percent to $434.5 million.

Analysts were expecting earnings of 28 cents per share before special items, on revenue of $376.3 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Suntech’s production capacity of photovoltaic cells, which turn sunlight into electricity, jumped to 540 megawatts at the end of the quarter, up 50 percent from a year earlier, and is on track to reach 1 gigawatt by the end of the year.

One megawatt is enough power to supply about 850 homes.

Gross margin in the quarter widened to 22.2 percent from 19 percent a year earlier.

SILICON COSTS UP, RELIEF SEEN

That margin improved from 20.8 percent in the fourth quarter as higher selling prices for its products and gains from the strength in the euro offset an 8 percent increase in Suntech’s polysilicon costs, Zhengrong Shi, chairman and chief executive, told a conference call.

Polysilicon is key material inside most photovoltaic solar cells, and shortages of the material have sent its prices up nearly 10-fold in recent years.

However, new capacity to produce the material will begin coming on line later this year, easing the tightness and bringing down prices on the spot market by 10 percent to 20 percent from the current $400 to $500 per kilogram, Suntech said.

“For sure, there will be competition among the suppliers,” Shi told Reuters in an interview, adding that long-term contract prices — which are well below spot prices — would likely start to move lower, bottoming out eventually at between $30 and $40 per kilogram.

Suntech, based in San Francisco and Wuxi, China, said it expects second-quarter revenue of $430 million to $440 million, and it reiterated its full-year revenue forecast of $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion.

Shipments of solar modules, which are made up of solar cells, are expected to total 530 megawatts this year, up from 364 megawatts in 2007.

(more…)

Spire to Provide Turnkey Solar Module Manufacturing Line to BTCP in Russia

Filed under: SPIR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 8:31 am

Thursday May 22, 8:30 am ET

BEDFORD, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Spire Corporation (SPIR), a global solar company providing turnkey solar factories and capital equipment to manufacture photovoltaic modules and cells worldwide, today announced that it has received a contract from Bogoroditsk Plant of Techno-Chemical Products (BTCP) to provide a photovoltaic module assembly line for the company’s operations in Russia.

BTCP is an international chemical company located in the Tula region of Russia. This will be the company’s first solar module manufacturing facility for both the standard module, and building integrated photovoltaic markets.

Spire will provide BTCP with a semi-automated crystalline silicon module manufacturing line capable of producing up to 12 megawatts of solar modules per year. It will integrate Spire’s key interconnect, lamination, and testing machines, along with intermediate tooling stations. Spire will supply the process technology and training to operate the factory, as well as assistance in qualifying the factory’s modules to international standards and certification. The line is designed to be easily expandable at a later date.

“We are excited to be chosen to provide our turnkey line solution to BTCP in Russia. This order demonstrates our capability to put new customers into the rapidly growing photovoltaic business,” said Roger G. Little, Chairman and CEO of Spire Corporation. “Entering an entirely new market can be difficult for a manufacturer, but Spire’s ability to deliver a complete solar factory, as well as the training needed to succeed in the solar market, enables companies with limited exposure to the industry to efficiently add solar module manufacturing to their business portfolio.”

“We are excited to work with Spire, the industry leader, on this important new venture,” said Alexey Baberdin, Director General of BTCP. “The solar market is expanding rapidly in Russia and Spire offers the quickest, most efficient path to joining the industry. We are confident that Spire’s industry expertise and superior manufacturing equipment position us for success as we integrate solar manufacturing into our existing business.”

About Bogoroditsk Plant of Techno-Chemical Products

BTCP is a high technology company and was established in 1962 to pursue the production of electronic components. In addition to electronic components and new solar initiatives, the Company invests in research and development in the areas of quantum electronics, optoelectronics, scintillation elements, and special apparatus for the production of amplification and tube elements.

Suntech Reports First Quarter 2008 Financial Results

Filed under: STP — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 5:34 am

Thursday May 22, 5:30 am ET

SAN FRANCISCO and WUXI, China, May 22 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ — Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (STP), one of the world’s leading manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, today announced first quarter 2008 financial results.

First Quarter 2008 Highlights(1)

— First quarter 2008 total net revenues grew 76.1% year-over-year to
$434.5 million.

— Consolidated gross margin increased to 22.2% for the first quarter 2008
compared to 19.0% for the first quarter of 2007. Non-GAAP(2) gross
margin reached 22.5 % for the first quarter 2008, compared with 19.9%
for the first quarter 2007.

— Net income for the first quarter 2008 was $55.8 million or $0.33 per
diluted American Depository Share (ADS). On a non-GAAP basis,
Suntech’s net income for the first quarter 2008 was $60.6 million or
$0.35 per diluted ADS. Each ADS represents one ordinary share.

— Suntech’s PV cell production capacity was 540MW at the end of the first
quarter of 2008. The Company is on track to reach 1GW PV cell
production capacity by the end of 2008.

“We executed extremely well during the first quarter, despite the impact of the snowstorm, to deliver stronger than expected growth in net revenues and solid financial results,” said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech’s Chairman and CEO. “A vigorous demand environment in the major solar markets in Germany and Spain as well as in the emerging markets including South Korea and Italy drove strong pricing during the quarter. We expect demand to remain robust through 2008 and are virtually sold out for the full year.”

Commenting on Suntech’s silicon outlook, Dr. Shi said, “During the first quarter we leveraged the funds raised through our convertible senior notes offering to enhance our long term cost competitiveness with new and expanded polysilicon supply agreements and strategic investment in key suppliers. Our ability to secure reasonably priced silicon reflects our competitive strengths with respect to our leading market position, financial strength, and close relationships with upstream suppliers. We are confident that this improved silicon outlook will help us to achieve our goal of providing grid parity solar solutions.”

“During the first quarter, we continued to hire impressive talent in current and developing international markets including Germany, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, South Korea and Australia. This will lay the infrastructure for the continued rapid growth in our business, and provide the flexibility to respond to changing market dynamics. We are confident that our strategy of developing a broad portfolio of superior quality solar products, world-class manufacturing facilities and techniques, deep sales channels and improving cost efficiencies will differentiate Suntech as a clear leader in the solar industry,” concluded Dr. Shi.

(more…)

May 21, 2008

Ascent Solar Announces Closing of Public Offering of Common Stock

Filed under: ASTI — Tags: , — Jason @ 4:01 pm

Wednesday May 21, 4:01 pm ET

LITTLETON, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (ASTI) today announced that it has closed its public offering of 4,370,000 shares of common stock, including 570,000 shares issued after the underwriters exercised their over-allotment in full, at a price of $14.00 per share, resulting in proceeds of $61,180,000 before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and estimated expenses payable by Ascent Solar.

J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. acted as managing lead underwriter of the offering. Cowen and Company, LLC, Jefferies & Company, Inc. and Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. acted as co-managers of the offering, and Janco Partners, Inc., Maxim Group LLC and Signal Hill Capital Group LLC also served in the underwriting group. A copy of the final prospectus may be obtained by mail to J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., National Statement Processing, Prospectus Library, 4 Chase Metrotech Center, CS Level, Brooklyn, New York 11245, or by calling J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. at 1-718-242-8002.

A registration statement relating to this offering was filed with and declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy, and there shall not be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

Out of the Gate: Solarfun soars on 1Q earns

Filed under: SOLF — Tags: , , — Jason @ 10:00 am

Wednesday May 21, 10:00 am ET

Solarfun shares surge after company swings to 1st-quarter profit, beating analyst estimates

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Solarfun Power Holdings Co. surged at market open Tuesday after the China-based solar cell maker said it swung to a first-quarter profit.

The stock climbed $3.22, or 12.8 percent, to $28.46.

Early Wednesday, Solarfun said its first-quarter earnings rose to $15.3 million, or 32 cents per American Depositary Receipt, on $131.3 million in revenue, as higher selling prices offset higher raw-materials costs.

The results blew past Wall Street estimates of 16 cents per ADR.

Solarfun also said selling prices in Spain and Germany were especially robust, adding that it benefited from a strong euro.

“We believe we are well positioned to take advantage of the continued burgeoning growth of (photovoltaic) demand,” Chief Executive Harold Hoskens said in a statement.

The company predicted strong demand in the second quarter, but a lower gross margin because of higher silicon costs.

Shares of Solarfun have traded between $8.22 and $40.19 in the past 52 weeks.

Friedman downgrades First Solar

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: — Jason @ 9:54 am

May 21 (Reuters) – Friedman Billings Ramsey downgraded First Solar Inc (FSLR) to “underperform” from “market perform,” and said it is increasingly concerned about the margin risk as the thin-film solar equipment maker aggressively pursues utility-scale projects in the U.S.

Such risks are not reflected in the stock near $300 and thus not only could be a source of disappointment but could also lead to downside earnings per share risk, the brokerage said.

Friedman said the installed system prices in United States would have to come down by at least 14 percent by end of 2008 and by at least 20 percent in 2009 if First Solar were to compete effectively for utility-scale projects.

Edison International’s (EIX) Southern California Edison utility announced in March it planned to build the largest photovoltaic solar system in the United States, totaling 250 megawatts, or enough to supply 162,000 homes.

First Solar, which is supplying solar panels for a 40-megawatt system in eastern Germany, is hoping to get a share of that potentially huge demand from utilities.

The brokerage added that with upside to its current revenue estimates on First Solar largely driven by additional facilities that have yet to be announced and thus uncertain, the current “rich” valuation multiples are not warranted.

It estimates utility margins of well below corporate average (less than 40 percent), a factor that has yet to be dialed into the shares and consensus EPS estimates, the brokerage wrote in a note to clients.

Friedman raised its price target on First Solar to $200 from $155. Shares of the company were trading down $8.79 at $290.27 in morning trade on Nasdaq.

Solarfun Power Holdings swings to 1Q profit

Filed under: SOLF — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 8:40 am

Wednesday May 21, 8:37 am ET

Solarfun Power Holdings swings to 1st-qtr profit as selling prices offset higher costs

NEW YORK (AP) — Solar cell maker Solarfun Power Holdings Co. Ltd. said Wednesday it swung to a profit in the first quarter as higher selling prices offset rising raw material costs.

The results easily beat Wall Street expectations and the value of the company’s American Depositary Shares surged $3.20, or 12.7 percent, to $28.30 in premarket trading.

Net income for the three months ended March 31 was 107 million yuan ($15.3 million), or 2.21 yuan (32 cents) per ADS, compared with a loss in the year-earlier quarter of 2.5 million yuan, or 0.5 yuan per ADS, the China-based company said.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected, on average, earnings per ADS of 16 cents.

Revenue rose to 1.2 billion yuan ($171.3 million) from 190.7 million yuan a year earlier. Analysts expected revenue of 961.8 million yuan (or $137.4 million).

Selling prices in Spain and Germany were particularly strong, the company said. It also benefited from a strong euro.

“During the first quarter, the company was able to achieve both record shipments and profits in spite of tight supply and price increases of raw materials,” Chief Executive Harold Hoskens said in a statement.

“Our customer demand is robust, pricing for our products remains strong, and we have good control of our operating expenses and improved working capital management.”

Solarfun Reports 2008 First Quarter Results

Filed under: SOLF — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 6:35 am

SHANGHAI, China–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Solarfun Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (“Solarfun” or “the Company”) (SOLF), an established vertically-integrated manufacturer of silicon ingots and photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules in China, today reported its unaudited financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2008.

2008 FIRST QUARTER RESULTS

* Net revenue was RMB 1.20 billion (US$ 171.0 million), an increase of 529% from the fourth quarter of 2007.
* PV module shipments showed good momentum, reaching 40.3MW, which represented 40% growth over 4Q2007 and 517% from the first quarter last year.
* Average selling price (“ASP”) was strong at $4.07 and was significantly higher than the ASP of $3.85 in the fourth quarter of 2007. Spain and Germany saw particular pricing strength and the Company also benefited from the strong Euro during the period.
* The geographic breakdown of net revenue was as follows: Spain 46%, Germany 36%, France 8%, Italy 6%, and Switzerland 4%. The company’s customer base remained diversified with only two customers accounting for over 10% of sales.
* Gross profit was RMB 197.4 million (US$ 28.2 million), an increase of 502% from the same quarter last year.
* As the Company had guided, gross margins softened slightly to 16.5% due primarily to higher polysilicon and wafer costs.
* Operating profit was RMB 144.9 million (US$ 20.7 million), a rise of over 3300% from the same quarter last year and 56% from 4Q2007. Operating margins increased to 12.1%, as the Company managed to control operating costs, while revenues grew substantially.
* Interest expense rose to US$ 3.8 million due to increased bank borrowing and the Company’s Convertible Senior Notes offering.
* The Company recorded a currency gain of US$ 2.8 million as a result of the appreciation of the RMB relative to the U.S. Dollar.
* Net income was RMB 107.0 million (US$ 15.3 million). The Company reported a small net loss in the comparable quarter in 2007.
* Earnings per basic ADS were RMB 2.21 (US$ 0.32).

Harold Hoskens, CEO of Solarfun, noted, “During the first quarter, the Company was able to achieve both record shipments and profits in spite of tight supply and price increases of raw materials. Our customer demand is robust, pricing for our products remains strong, and we have good control of our operating expenses and improved working capital management.”

(more…)

May 20, 2008

China Sunergy posts surprise Q1 profit

Filed under: CSUN — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 3:12 pm

Tue May 20, 2008 3:12pm EDT

By Shradhha Sharma

BANGALORE, May 20 (Reuters) – Solar cell maker China Sunergy Co Ltd (CSUN) posted a surprise first-quarter profit, boosted by strong sales of its high-efficiency cells and higher prices.

China Sunergy is contemplating going to the market in the second quarter to raise cash for its capital expenditure needs, a company executive said in a conference call with analysts.

“Liquidity looks better, but CSUN may still seek capital to fund long-term polysilicon supply contracts,” Robert Stone, an analyst with Cowen and Co, said.

In a note to clients, Stone said he also raised his 2009 earnings estimate for the company to 60 cents per American Depository Share (ADS) from 50 cents, on lower projected debt.

China Sunergy has about $100 million cash on hand and sees capital expenditures of about $60 million for the year, of which about $20 million has already been funded, Jefferies & Co analyst Paul Clegg said. The company said it plans to fund the remaining $40 million through cash raised from the market.

The company’s shares, which fell as much as 10 percent earlier, pared losses to trade down 7 cents at $12.99 in afternoon trade on Nasdaq.

“It could have been someone who bought the stock a week ago and decided that since they (China Sunergy) weren’t raising full-year guidance, it was time to take profits,” Stone said, referring to the decline in share price earlier in the day.

The stock had risen 31 percent in the last five days. Stone said the run-up in the shares was in anticipation of better-than-expected results.

The company’s suggestion on the call that it would tap the market for cash could have been one of the factors that pulled down the stock earlier in the day, Clegg said.

The company is not considering using its own cash for its capital expenditure needs as it plans to use cash reserves for shoring up its balance sheet for future growth, Clegg said.

SURPRISE PROFIT

For the first quarter, China Sunergy posted net income attributable to ordinary shareholders of $0.5 million, or 1 cent per ADS, compared with $4.9 million, or 17 cents per ADS, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 32 percent to $77 million.

Analysts on average were expecting a loss of 5 cents per ADS, before special items, on revenue of $73.3 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Blended average selling price (ASP) rose more than 9 percent to $3.23 per watt due to a higher production of high efficiency cells, strong product demand and a stronger Chinese currency, the company said.

“Despite the three-week interruption to our operations caused by the snow storms in January, and the higher wafer costs during the quarter, we managed to turn around and get back to profitability,” Chief Executive Allen Wang said in a statement.

China Sunergy had been posting losses each quarter since it went public in May last year.

For the first quarter, wafer costs rose more than 18 percent to $2.64 per watt, helped by the stronger Chinese currency, the company said.

China Sunergy expects gross margin of between 9 percent and 10 percent and production volume in the range of 30 megawatts to 32 megawatts in the second quarter. Gross margin for the first quarter was 9.2 percent.

It backed its 2008 production target of 125 MW to 145 MW.

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