North Coast Solar Stocks

June 23, 2008

Evergreen Solar shares jump as Lehman ups target

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , — Jason @ 11:26 am

Monday June 23, 11:26 am ET

Evergreen Solar shares advance after Lehman raises price target following Devens factory visit

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Evergreen Solar climbed on Monday after a Lehman Brothers analyst raised his price target on the solar wafer maker, saying Wall Street is overly cautious on the company’s new factory in Devens, Mass.

The stock advanced 69 cents, or 5.9 percent, to $12.36 in morning trading.

Vishal Shah raised his price target to $15 from $12 in a client note early Monday. He said a recent analyst visit to the company’s Devens factory left him convinced that Evergreen’s capacity expansion is progressing on schedule.

“We believe Street estimates for 2009 are conservative and reflect execution risks,” with the Devens factory, Shah wrote in a client note.

The new target implies he expects shares to gain 29 percent over Friday’s close of $11.66. He cut his 2008 estimate on the company, forecasting a wider loss on higher expected startup costs from the factory, and maintained his “Equal Weight” rating. However, he raised his 2009 estimate and introduced a 2010 profit outlook ahead of Wall Street estimates.

Separately, Deutsche Bank’s Steve O’Rourke said he was also upbeat following the analyst meeting, saying the company’s plans for capital raising and capacity increases were positive.

But Evergreen’s capital needs are “immense,” he said. O’Rourke estimated the company would need about $700 million to fund capacity expansion through 2010, buy additional polysilicon and lay the groundwork for expansion through 2012.

O’Rourke maintained his “Hold” rating and $12 price target on the stock.

A company representative could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning.

Shares of Evergreen Solar have traded between $7.52 and $18.85 in the last 52 weeks, and are off 32 percent since the start of the year.

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Lehman ups First Solar target

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , — Jason @ 9:18 am

Monday June 23, 9:18 am ET

Lehman raises price target on First Solar, expecting higher demand and lower costs

NEW YORK (AP) — A Lehman Brothers analyst expects greater returns on shares of First Solar Inc. due to lower costs and higher demand for its products.

In a client note Monday, analyst Vishal Shah raised his price target to $335 from $280, implying an expected return of 25 percent over Friday’s close of $268.22.

Shah said greater output from Malaysia could add roughly $30 million to the company’s second-quarter revenue. The company should benefit from a more favorable exchange rate and a resolution of solar incentives in Spain.

He also predicted a possible announcement of a U.S. contract ahead of the company’s “strong” second-quarter results, scheduled for release in July.

A company representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Shares of the Tempe, Ariz., company rose $6.74, or 2.5 percent, to $274.96 in premarket trading Monday.

ICP Solar Selected by Sea Choice(R) for Solar Products Design and Supply

Filed under: ICPR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:02 am

Monday June 23, 9:02 am ET

Boating enthusiasts to enjoy solar power access through over 5000 dealer network

MONTREAL–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ICP Solar Technologies Inc. (ICPR), a developer, manufacturer and marketer of solar panels and products, today announced that is has been selected by Sea Choice® for the design and supply of its new line of solar chargers.

“We are thrilled to be working with Sea Choice® as developer and supplier for its new range of solar chargers,” said Sass Peress, ICP Solar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The Sea choice® brand has always stood for high quality consumer recreational products and their policy of instilling ingenuity into products fits with our philosophy of creating the most innovative solar energy products on the market. We look forward to working together to develop new and exciting ways to address the current and future needs of Sea choice’s customers”.

“ICP Solar’s experience in the mobile solar charger arena has yielded the most innovative and reliable products of their kind,” Tom Clark, ICP Solar’s VP of Sales-Americas. “Boating environments are very demanding and the Sea Choice® line of solar chargers will come with best in class features, a 2-year warranty and will deliver over 50% more power per square inch than competing solar chargers. ”

Akeena Solar Gets ”Cool” Stamp of Approval

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:03 am

Monday June 23, 8:03 am ET

Andalay Solar Panels Win PCBC Cool Product Award

LOS GATOS, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Akeena Solar (AKNS), one of the United States’ largest solar installers, today announced that its Andalay solar panel was selected as a Cool Product Award Winner by the 2008 Pacific Coast Builders Conference. More than 675 homebuilding professionals singled out the sleek, high-performance solar panel from about 125 green product submissions and only 15 winners were chosen from a total of three categories.

In its sixth year, the PCBC Cool Product competition highlights achievements in innovation and creativity in the increasingly crowded home building products marketplace. This year’s conference will have a special focus on green building — a market segment expected to account for $12 billion in revenue this year.

“We are thrilled that PCBC recognized Andalay as one of this year’s cool products,” said Barry Cinnamon, founder and CEO of Akeena Solar. “Skyrocketing energy prices have increasingly made rooftop solar power systems an attractive alternative for homeowners and people buying electric vehicles. Andalay offers a reliable, high performance solar power system that is also beautiful, sleek and elegant to homeowners who are no longer satisfied with ordinary, bulky panels.”

Andalay debuted in September 2007. Based on Akeena Solar’s years of installation experience, the Andalay panels streamline installation processes by incorporating the external racking and electrical wiring elements into the panels themselves. This breakthrough design eliminates 70 percent of the parts and reduces 25 percent of rooftop penetrations necessary in the installation of ordinary rack-mounted systems.

The Pacific Coast Builder’s Conference will take place June 24 – 27, 2008 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The Expo Hall floor, where Akeena Solar’s booth is located, is open from 10 am to 5 pm the first two days of the conference, and from 9 am to 3 pm on June 27.

SunPower Announces Triggering Event for Convertibility of $200M Senior Convertible Debentures Due 2027

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

Monday June 23, 8:00 am ET

SAN JOSE, Calif., June 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corporation (SPWR), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced that the last reported sale price of its class A common stock on at least 20 of the last 30 trading days during the fiscal quarter ending June 29, 2008 has equaled or exceeded $70.94, which represents 125% of the conversion price for one series of its outstanding senior convertible debentures. Accordingly, pursuant to the terms of the indenture governing its $200 million aggregate principal amount of 1.25% senior convertible debentures due 2027, the market price conversion trigger has been satisfied and the debentures may be converted at the holders’ option during SunPower’s third fiscal quarter ending September 28, 2008. However, given that the current market value of the debentures substantially exceeds the value holders would receive upon conversion if the class A common stock remains at current levels through the applicable 20 day observation period, SunPower believes that holders may not have a significant economic incentive to convert at this time.

Pursuant to the terms of the indenture, the principal amount of any debentures surrendered for conversion must be settled in cash. To the extent that the conversion obligation exceeds the principal amount of any debentures converted, SunPower must satisfy the remaining conversion obligation of the 1.25% senior convertible debentures due 2027 in shares of its class A common stock.

As a result of the class A common stock price conversion trigger, SunPower will classify the $200 million aggregate principal amount of the debentures as short-term debt on its June 29, 2008 balance sheet. If the class A common stock price conversion test is not met in a subsequent quarter, the debentures may be re-classified as non-current debt as of the end of such quarter.

The common stock price conversion test will not be met for SunPower’s $225 million aggregate principal amount of its 0.75% senior convertible debentures due 2027, as the class A common stock closing price for at least 20 of the last 30 trading days of this quarter, has not equaled or exceeded $102.80, which represents 125% of the applicable conversion price for this series of the company’s outstanding senior convertible debentures. Therefore, this series of convertible debentures will not be convertible into common stock based on this trigger during the fiscal quarter ending on September 28, 2008. If the common stock price conversion test is met in a subsequent quarter, these debentures may also be re-classified as short-term debt.

SunPower’s principal current sources of liquidity are cash on its balance sheet, cash generated by operations and borrowings under its credit facilities. Based on SunPower’s current financial condition, management believes that liquidity from these sources, combined with the potential availability of future sources of funding, including accessing debt and equity markets, will be adequate to fund SunPower’s current and long-term debt obligations, and fund its planned capital expenditures and business plans over the next 12 months.

Japan looks to solar subsidies to boost industry

Filed under: KYO, STP — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 6:48 am

Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:48am EDT
By Mayumi Negishi

TOKYO, June 23 (Reuters) – Japan is poised to bring back subsidies for solar panel makers next year to maintain its lead in the industry, two officials at its Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will receive recommendations from a panel that is due to discuss clean energy on Tuesday, officials said.

The ideas discussed include subsidies and tax breaks that could halve the cost of putting up solar panels in households, one said.

“It’s clear that lack of vision dented Japan’s lead in market share,” said the official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media. “Japan has the technological advantage. But the measures would have to be drastic if we are to keep our lead.”

Japan has watched domestic solar demand dry up after it pulled the plug on subsidies, hurting firms’ ability to invest in research and expansion abroad.

Japan’s decision to scrap solar subsidies helped Germany’s Q-Cells AG beat Japan’s Sharp Corp to become the No.1 supplier of solar cells, while China’s Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) nudge out Kyocera Corp (KYO) for third place, analysts said.

Japan, still the world’s biggest supplier of solar cells, made a mistake scrapping solar subsidies in 2005, said Nomura analyst Tetsuya Wadaki.

“The tide won’t change quickly. But Japan has owned up to its mistake. Now there is ample hope,” he said.

Because of the low barrier to entry in the solar market right now, Japanese firms will likely regain their technological edge only when thin-film technology becomes mainstream — around 2010, he, and other analysts, said.

Thin-film solar cells cost less to make because they use a fraction of the silicon used in other silicon-based solar cells, but they are now less efficient in turning sunlight into electricity.

Japanese firms’ failure to procure adequate silicon further puts a cap on growth in the next two to three years.

Reports about the panel’s proposals left shares of Sharp and Kyocera remained mostly unchanged, while Sanyo Electric Co Ltd, which owns a hybrid technology that combines elements of thin-film and existing silicon-based cells, closed up 3 percent at 274 yen.

Shares of makers of solar equipment on expectations that the measure would further spur investment in environmentally friendly energy.

Japan is also home to solar equipment suppliers such as Ulvac Inc, which jumped 7.8 percent, NPC Inc, which rose 6.2 percent and SES Co Ltd, which rose 15.7 percent.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda on June 9 announced a long-term goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60-80 percent from current levels by 2050.

The initiative includes a target to have more than 70 percent of newly built houses equipped with solar panels by 2020.

Sharp, Kansai Electric to build solar power plants

Filed under: STP — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 4:27 am

Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:27am EDT

TOKYO, June 23 (Reuters) – Sharp Corp and Kansai Electric Power Co said on Monday they have agreed to join forces in a solar power generation project that involves the construction of two power plants in Sakai, western Japan.

Soaring crude oil prices and growing concerns about climate change have boosted energy consumers’ and producers’ interest in renewable energy such as solar cell and wind power.

Kansai and Sharp, a solar cell maker competing with Germany’s Q-Cells and China’s Suntech Power Holdings (STP), plan to build a power generation facility with a maximum capacity of 18 megawatts at Sharp’s manufacturing complex by March 2011.

Electricity generated by solar cells on plant rooftops will be consumed within the complex.

Kansai also plans to spend 5 billion yen ($46.6 million) to build a 10-megawatt solar power plant near the Sharp complex by March 2012, becoming the first Japanese electric utility to operate a commercial solar power generation facility that is connected to a power grid.

The size of investments required for the power generation facility at Sharp’s manufacturing complex has yet to be clear.

But construction costs for the facility should be moderate since plants in the complex are designed to have solar cells on their roofs, Sharp Corporate Senior Executive Vice President Toshishige Hamano told reporters.

Sharp plans to build the Sakai manufacturing complex, which houses the world’s largest liquid crystal display (LCD) panel plant and the world’s biggest solar cell factory, by March 2010.

Prior to the announcement, shares in Sharp closed up 0.8 percent at 1,730 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market’s electrical machinery index , which dipped 0.1 percent.

June 20, 2008

Hoku Materials, Great Western in waste water deal

Filed under: HOKU — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 9:25 am

Friday June 20, 9:25 am ET

Hoku signs deal with Great Western to provide heated waste water for use in malt production

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — Hoku Materials Inc., a subsidiary of Hoku Scientific Inc., said Friday it has signed a deal with Great Western Malting Co. to provide heated waste water from its planned polysilicon manufacturing plant for use in malt production.

Great Western, a unit of privately held United Malt Holdings, operates a malting plant next to Hoku’s planned plant in Pocatello, Idaho.

Under the deal’s terms, Hoku will supply Great Western with heated process water, a byproduct of polysilicon manufacturing. Great Western will then use the water as a heat source in its malt production line and then return the cooled water to Hoku for re-use.

Great Western said the deal will reduce its dependence on natural gas and reduce emissions.

The companies also announced a joint agreement with the city of Pocatello and the Pocatello Development Authority to build a new public road along the southwestern boundaries of the two companies’ properties. Work is scheduled to begin on the road in 2009.

S&P RAISES OPINION ON SHARES OF EVERGREEN SOLAR TO STRONG BUY FROM BUY (ESLR)

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 8:10 am

Shares are up 10% this morning after ESLR sets two long-term sales contracts, totaling $600 million, with U.S.-based groSolar and Germany-based Wagner & Co Solartechnik. This follows $1 billion of May contracts. Production to be at Massachusetts plant slated to start up in July. Cash needs for current expansion likely to bring one last dilutive deal, but we project strong ELSR cash flow starting in 2010. We still see $0.10 a share loss in 2008 but raise 2009 EPS forecast by $0.10 to $0.65. We raise target price by 2 to 18, which is 28 times our 2009 estimate, a premium to reflect strong prospects. -M. Jaffe

June 19, 2008

Evergreen Solar shares surge on supply deals

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 1:29 pm

Thursday June 19, 1:29 pm ET

Evergreen Solar shares rise sharply in wake of supply deals; Lehman raises target price

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Evergreen Solar Inc. shot up Thursday after the solar panel producer inked two long-term sales contracts.

A Lehman Brothers analyst raised his target price on the stock and predicted his Wall Street colleagues will soon raise their earnings forecasts for the company. That move added fuel to a rally that extended a week of gains.

The contracts with White River Junction, Vt.-based groSolar and Germany’s Wagner & Co Solartechnik GmbH that were announced late Wednesday run through 2012 and have a combined value of about $600 million.

Lehman analyst Vishal Shah said more than 65 percent of Evergreen’s anticipated production in 2012 is now locked in with long-term contracts, adding visibility to the company’s earnings for years to come.

Shah increased his target price by a dollar, or 9 percent, to $12 per share, due to the increased visibility.

The move came ahead of a meeting Evergreen planned to hold with analysts at its facility in Devens, Mass. Shah, who rates the stock “Equal weight,” said he expected other analysts to raise their earnings estimates following the event.

“With manufacturing ramp on-schedule, we expect focus to be on cost, technology differentiation and (spending) requirements. We also expect presentations to focus on Evergreen’s competitive advantage in terms of access to silicon supply, low cost structure and ability to enter into (long-term) take-or-pay contracts,” Shah wrote in a note to investors previewing the meeting.

Evergreen shares jumped $1.81, or 17.7 percent, to $12.05 in early afternoon trading.

Intel’s solar ambitions

Filed under: AMAT, HPQ, IBM, INTC, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 12:23 pm

When Intel announced this week that it was spinning off a stealth in-house startup called SpectraWatt to develop solar cells, it appeared the chip giant was just the latest old-line Silicon Valley tech firm bitten by the green bug.

After all, crosstown chipmaker Cypress Semiconductor jumped into the solar game back in 2004 when it acquired SunPower (SPWR), now a leading manufacturer of solar cells and panels and an installer of large-scale solar arrays. Then the world’s biggest chip-equipment maker, Applied Materials (AMAT), retooled machines that make flat-screen video displays to produce thin-film solar panels. And just this month, Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) unveiled a deal to license solar technology to a solar cell startup while IBM (IBM) announced it would develop thin-film solar.

But it’s not just now jumping on the enviro-biz bandwagon – Intel’s solar efforts have been quietly under development since 2004. That’s when Andrew Wilson, an 11-year Intel (INTC) veteran, was chatting with a colleague while waiting for a conference call to begin. “We were shooting the breeze and I mentioned that I had replaced all the light bulbs in my house with compact fluorescent lights and my utility bill had come down by a third,” says Wilson, SpectraWatt’s CEO. “And he said, `Hey, did you know that solar cells are made of silicon?’ “

“We started talking about what a business plan would look like, because if something is made out of silicon then Intel should be taking advantage of that market,” Wilson told Fortune. A year later, Wilson and his colleagues had developed a marketing plan and secured funding from Intel’s new-business incubator to develop a business strategy and hone its technology. (It’s no coincidence that the nascent solar industry is populated by computer industry veterans from companies that put the silicon in Silicon Valley.)

When it comes to to cutting-edge solar technology, silicon-based cells are considered a bit old-school. Silicon is currently in short supply and the resulting high prices have led venture capitalists to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in thin-film solar startups that promise to dramatically lower the cost of solar by printing or otherwise applying non-silicon solar cells to glass or flexible materials that can be integrated into walls, windows and other building materials. While thin-film solar is less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, the expectation is that it can be produced much more cheaply than conventional cells.

But thin-film solar is still largely an early-stage technology and silicon-based cells will continue to be the big market for the near-future. So the question is, how does Intel compete with established players like SunPower, China’s Suntech (STP) and Germany’s Q-Cells as solar cells become a commodity? Intel controls some 80 to 90 percent of the worldwide chip market but it’s unlikely that it – or any other player – will replicate that experience in solar cells.

Wilson’s view is that it’s early days for the solar market and that SpectraWatt’s ace in the hole is Intel’s global manufacturing experience and history of technological innovation. “The solar industry today looks like the microelectronics industry in the late ‘70s – there’s very few standards and no one is manufacturing at scale,” says Wilson. “It’s all about manufacturing processes and material sciences that will lead to fundamental breakthroughs. The product is vastly simpler than a microprocessor but the fundamental nature of a solar cell isn’t all that different. When you think of what it takes to manufacture globally and manage supply chains, that’s Intel’s core competence.”

There certainly is room for more players, given that solar was a $30 billion market in 2007 and is expected to continue to grow at a clip of 30 to 40 percent in the coming years.

Wilson says SpectraWatt has secured silicon supplies and is developing technology that will give it a competitive edge. He’s keeping mum about the details of that technology for now. “We do believe we will have a technological advantage when we get what we’re doing in the lab to manufacturing,” Wilson says.

The company is set to begin building its manufacturing facility in Oregon later this year, with production to begin in mid-2009.

SpectraWatt launches with a $50 million investment lead by Intel Capital, the company’s investing arm. Other investors include Goldman Sachs (GS), PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund, and German solar giant Solon. (As Green Wombat has written, Solon has invested in an array of solar startups in the United States, including Sungevity and thin-film solar company Global Solar.)

China’s SMIC plans to make polysilicon: source

Filed under: none — Tags: , , — Jason @ 9:14 am

Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:08am EDT

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, China’s biggest contract chip maker, plans to become a maker of polysilicon, a key material for solar energy cells, a source familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

SMIC is in talks with a German company to obtain the necessary technology, said the source, declining to identify the German firm.

The location of SMIC’s polysilicon plant has not been decided, but it will be in an area of China where power is relatively cheap, added the source, who declined to be named since an agreement on the technology transfer has not yet been reached.

An SMIC spokesman declined comment.

SMIC, a major maker of memory and logic chips, also manufactures crystalline cells and assembles photovoltaic panels, which are used to produce solar energy.

Several Chinese companies making solar power equipment, such as Suntech Power Holdings Co, are trying to move their operations upstream into production of key materials, in order to cut costs and obtain better control over the supply chain.

Energy Conversion prices stock and note offers

Filed under: ENER — Tags: , — Jason @ 8:19 am

Thursday June 19, 8:19 am ET

Energy Conversion prices offer of stock and notes, increases number of notes in offering

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Energy Conversion Devices Inc. said Thursday it priced its previously announced stock and note offer and increased the amount of notes it plans to sell.

The company, which makes thin-film flexible solar laminate products, priced its offer of 4.7 million shares at $72 per share. It raised the amount of convertible senior notes due 2013 included in the offer to a total of $275 million, from $225 million previously.

The notes will bear interest at a rate of 3 percent a year.

Holders may convert their notes into stock at a rate of 10.9 shares per $1,000 in notes, or about $91.80 per share. Energy Conversion Devices shares closed Wednesday at $74.19.

As previously announced, Energy Conversion is lending 3.4 million or the 4.7 million shares to an affiliate of Credit Suisse Securities USA LLC. Credit Suisse has agreed to use the shares to help investors of the notes offering set hedge positions. Credit Suisse will receive all proceeds from the share lending deal and Energy Conversion will be paid a nominal lending fee.

Energy Conversion Devices Upsizes and Prices Offering of 4.7 Million Shares of Common Stock and $275.0 Million of Convertible Senior Notes

Filed under: ENER — Tags: , — Jason @ 7:37 am

Thursday June 19, 7:37 am ET

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich., June 19 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ENER), a global manufacturer of thin-film flexible solar laminate products for the building integrated and commercial rooftop markets, today announced the pricing of its public offering of 4,714,975 shares of common stock at $72.00 per share, and the pricing of its $275.0 million aggregate principal amount of 3.00% convertible senior notes due in 2013. The offering commenced on June 12, 2008 at 4,708,500 shares of common stock and $225.0 million aggregate principal amount of notes. ECD has also granted the underwriters of the offering of common stock an option to purchase up to an additional 190,500 shares of common stock and the underwriters of the offering of notes an option to purchase up to an additional $41.25 million aggregate principal amount of notes.

The notes will bear interest at a rate of 3.00% per year, payable on June 15 and December 15 of each year, commencing on December 15, 2008. The notes will mature on June 15, 2013. Holders of the notes may, under certain circumstances at their option, convert the principal amount of their notes into cash and, with respect to any amounts in excess of the principal amount, shares of ECD’s common stock initially at a conversion rate of 10.8932 shares (equivalent to an initial conversion price of approximately $91.80 per share) per $1,000 principal amount of notes. The notes are also convertible on this basis at any time on or after March 15, 2013 and prior to the close of business on the business day immediately proceeding the maturity date. The applicable conversion rate will be subject to adjustments in certain circumstances. The notes will be senior unsecured obligations of ECD and will rank equal in right of payment with any future senior unsecured debt of ECD, and senior in right of payment to all of ECD’s existing and future debt, if any, that is subordinated to the notes.

Concurrently with the notes offering, ECD is offering 4,714,975 shares of common stock. Of these, 3,444,975 shares will be lent by ECD to Credit Suisse International, or CSI, an affiliate of Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, pursuant to a share lending agreement among ECD, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and CSI. Under the agreement, CSI is entitled to offer and sell such shares in order to facilitate the establishment of hedge positions by investors in the notes and potentially other securities ECD may issue in the future. Up to 721,675 of the shares borrowed may be used to facilitate such transactions on a delayed basis. ECD will not receive any of the proceeds from the sale of shares pursuant to the share lending agreement but will receive a nominal lending fee. The completion of the lending of shares pursuant to the share lending agreement is conditioned on the completion of the convertible notes offering. ECD expects that delivery of the shares of common stock pursuant to the share lending agreement will be made concurrently with the closing of the note offering.

(more…)

June 18, 2008

Evergreen Solar gets 2 contracts worth about $600M

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 5:31 pm

Wednesday June 18, 5:31 pm ET

Evergreen Solar lands 2 sales contracts extending through 2012 worth about $600 million

MARLBORO, Mass. (AP) — Solar panel producer Evergreen Solar Inc. said Wednesday it signed two sales contracts extending through 2012 with a combined value of about $600 million.

The contracts are with White River Junction, Vt.-based groSolar and Germany’s Wagner & Co Solartechnik GmbH, which designs and installs solar electric and hot water systems.

The solar panels for the new contracts will be made in Evergreen’s Devens, Mass., facility starting in July.

Evergreen Solar said its contractual backlog now stands at $1.7 billion.

Shares jumped $1.37, or 13.4 percent, to $11.56 in after-hours trading. The stock closed at $10.24 in the regular session.

Evergreen Solar Signs Two New Sales Contracts Totaling Approximately $600 Million

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 4:54 pm

Wednesday June 18, 4:54 pm ET

Raises Contractual Backlog to More Than $1.7 Billion

MARLBORO, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Evergreen Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: ESLR – News), a manufacturer of solar power panels with its proprietary, low-cost String Ribbon™ wafer technology, announced it has signed two new long-term sales contracts valued at approximately $600 million with United States-based groSolar and German-based Wagner & Co Solartechnik GmbH. These contracts extend through 2012 and bring the company’s total contractual backlog to approximately $1.7 billion.

The solar panels for these two contracts and the two contracts previously announced in May will be manufactured at the company’s Devens, Massachusetts facility, which will begin panel production in July. These four contracts represent approximately 65 percent of the expected 160MW of annual production capacity at Devens through 2013. Evergreen Solar also has six other customer contracts with a current total backlog of approximately $850 million, which will primarily be supplied by EverQ, its German-based joint venture.

“The four multi-year contracts that we have signed in the last 30 days continue to validate that our String Ribbon technology combined with the features and functionality of our solar panel design, provides a compelling value proposition for our customers,” said Richard M. Feldt, Evergreen Solar’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We continue in discussions with other potential customers as we look to commit up to 75% of Devens capacity to long term contracts.”

About groSolar

groSolar is a leading North American solar power company focused on designing, distributing and installing high quality solar electric and solar hot water systems. groSolar provides residential installation in the northeast and mid-Atlantic states, and commercial installation in California as well as the eastern US, serving other areas through an extensive dealer network. With a system of warehouses across the continent, groSolar has the broadest distribution capabilities of any solar provider. groSolar integrates components from leading solar manufacturers including Evergreen Solar into efficient solar energy systems for its customers that generate clean, reliable energy for decades. groSolar was also recently recognized as the second fastest growing company in Vermont and one of the best places to work in Vermont. For information, contact Kevin Ellis 1-800-498-5390 or Kelli Pippin at 1-800-374-4494 x3085. http://www.groSolar.com.

About Wagner & Co Solartechnik GmbH

As a leading PV system integrator in Germany, Wagner serves all the major markets in Europe through their extensive installer-network. Wagner also develops, manufactures and markets solar-hot water-systems for use throughout Europe. The Wagner-Academy helps to create high installation standards and profound knowledge for all market players they work with. Wagner also produces Europe’s most efficient flat plate hot water collectors and the Company is well known for its “EURO-Collector” a premium, award-winning, high efficient product. For more information please visit http://www.wagner-solar.com.

Shares of Canadian Solar rise on improved outlook

Filed under: CSIQ — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 2:42 pm

Wednesday June 18, 2:42 pm ET

Canadian Solar shares rise as it raises revenue outlook on strong German sales

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Canadian Solar Inc. rose Wednesday after the maker of solar cells and modules raised its 2008 revenue guidance, citing stronger sales to German customers.

Shares rose $2.61, or 5.5 percent, to $49.61 in afternoon trading.

The company, which also Tuesday announced increased capital expenditure plans, said it expects sales this year of $750 million to $870 million, up from a previous forecast of $650 million to $750 million.

The increased revenue forecast largely reflects recent sales of solar modules to Pro Solar Solarstrom GmbH and Iliotec Solar GmbH of Germany. To meet the greater demand, the company’s board authorized an unspecified increase in capital spending to boost capacity.

“This will position us well to deliver on our customers’ volume requirements for 2009 and allows us to use the e-Module program to strategically develop (photovoltaic) markets both within and outside of Europe such as the U.S. and South Korea,” Chief Executive Dr. Shawn Qu said in a statement.

Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Sam Dubinsky, who has a $60 price target on the shares, said in a client note Wednesday that Canadian Solar’s new revenue targets “still appear conservative.”

He also cited the company’s use of upgraded metallurgical silicon to make solar cells, which gives it a cost advantage over rivals who use the more expensive electrical-grade silicon.

Canadian Solar is headquartered in Markham, Ontario, and has all its manufacturing in China.

ReneSola Announces Pricing of Follow-On Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange

Filed under: SOL — Tags: , — Jason @ 6:22 am

Wednesday June 18, 6:22 am ET

JIASHAN, China, June 18 /Xinhua-PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — ReneSola Ltd (‘ReneSola’ or the ‘Company’), a leading global manufacturer of solar wafers, is pleased to announce further details of its follow-on public offering of American Depositary Shares (‘ADSs’) (the ‘Offering’).

Details of the Offering

A total of 9,000,000 ADSs, each representing two shares of the Company, are being sold in the Offering at a price of US$20.50 per ADS.

Of the ADSs to be sold in the Offering, 8,577,220 ADSs represent new shares being issued by ReneSola and 422,780 ADSs are being sold by certain selling shareholders (the ‘Selling Shareholders’), including certain directors of the Company, further details of which are set out below. In addition, the underwriters have been granted a 30-day option to purchase up to 972,720 additional ADSs from ReneSola and an aggregate of 377,280 additional ADSs from the Selling Shareholders to cover over-allotments.

The Company’s ADSs will be traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘SOL.’ The ticker symbol of the Company’s shares on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange (‘AIM’) will remain ‘SOLA.’

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. are acting as joint book runners and Piper Jaffray & Co., Lazard Capital Markets LLC and Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. are acting as co-managers for the Offering.

The underwriters expect to deliver the ADSs to purchasers on or about 23 June 2008.

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June 17, 2008

Canadian Solar Jumps 11% After Raising Sales Forecast

Filed under: CSIQ, LDK, SOL — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 6:37 pm

Tuesday June 17, 6:37 pm ET
Brian Womack

Canadian Solar gave clean-energy investors more good news Tuesday after it raised its 2008 sales guidance and announced expanded manufacturing capacity.

Shares of Canadian Solar (CSIQ) soared more than 10% Tuesday to close at an all-time high of 47. The Chinese firm makes solar modules, or panels, that convert the sun’s rays into electricity.

The announcement comes on the heels of growing industry optimism after a global conference in Germany last week indicated stronger-than-expected demand for solar power gear. IBD’s “energy-other” group of stocks — which counts solar among its leaders — is up roughly 7% since last Friday, when the conference was in full swing.

Canadian Solar — which falls somewhere in the middle of the fast-growing solar power arena in terms of revenue — expects 2008 sales of $750 million to $870 million, up from its previous forecast of $650 million to $750 million. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is $836 million.

Canadian Solar credits the improvement to its launch of products that use “upgraded metallurgical grade” silicon. The material is cheaper than the more widely used polysilicon.

Daniel Ries, an analyst with Collins Stewart, says the announcement was somewhat expected because the company had earlier said sales guidance didn’t include the new type of solar products. But the company’s boost in manufacturing capacity was a bigger surprise.

Canadian Solar increased its 2009 production capacity to 800 megawatts worth of solar modules vs. earlier estimates of 500 to 550 megawatts, including capacity for “upgraded metallurgical grade” silicon-based products.

“What they’re saying is that there’s enough demand to sell the (new) products,” said Colin Rusch, an analyst at Broadpoint 19ecurities Group.

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IBM Links With Japan’s TOK to Develop Solar Technology

Filed under: IBM — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 12:32 pm

NEW YORK – IBM has joined forces with semiconductor process company Tokyo Ohka Kogyo (TOK) to develop more efficient solar power technologies to cut the cost of the clean energy source, the companies said on Monday.

The move is the latest by large technology companies to enter the burgeoning field of photovoltaic solar products, which turn sunlight into electricity without releasing the pollutants that are emitted from coal, oil and nuclear power generation.

International Business Machines Corp will contribute its expertise in manufacturing cells, while TOK will bring its technology used in the semiconductor industry and for coating LCD panels.

The partnership is seeking to create techniques that double the efficiency of thin film solar modules, making them capable of converting more of the sun’s rays into electricity.

IBM Research’s Supratik Guha, who leads its solar photovoltaic activities, said the companies do not plan to enter the solar module production business, but hope to license their technology to producers in the next two to three years.

“We’ve already been in discussions with photovoltaic manufacturers,” Guha told Reuters in an interview.

“There are problems to be resolved,” he said, “but this is the time we’re starting to talk to them.”

The partnership will focus on developing new methods for printing copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS) cells that can turn more than 15 percent of sunlight into power — a significant improvement on the 6 percent to 12 percent efficiency that current solar CIGS makers have achieved in their fabrication plants.

Guha declined to specify the companies’ projected sales from the technology that will come from their link-up, but described the potential market as “huge.”

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Canadian Solar Increases Annual Guidance for 2008, Announces e-Module Sales Contracts and New Expansion Plan

Filed under: CSIQ — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 8:35 am

Tuesday June 17, 8:35 am ET

JIANGSU, China, June 17 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ — Canadian Solar Inc. (“the Company”, ”CSI” or ”we”) (CSIQ) today announced that it will increase its 2008 annual revenue and output guidance to reflect the sales of its e-Module products. These sales will be realized in H2 of this year.

The Company announced that it has commenced delivery of e-Modules to Pro Solar Solarstrom GmbH and Iliotec Solar GmbH of Germany. The companies signed annual supply agreements with CSI in early 2008. The total shipments to these two companies are estimated at 24.5 MW before the end of 2008. As of today, CSI’s total committed sales of e-Modules in 2008 is 35 MW, with approximately another 20 MW of firm interest from additional customers.

The company is accordingly raising its annual guidance for 2008 from 200 – 220 MW to 230 – 260 MW in output and its estimated annual revenue from $650 – $750 million to $750 – $870 million. The company estimates that it will ship approximately 10 – 12 MW of e-Modules to USA and South Korea in 2008, thus making these two countries significant markets for CSI.

Based on robust market demand for our products, the Company plans to increase its annual ingot and wafer capacity from the previous target of 40 – 60 MW to 150 – 200 MW; to increase our internal cell capacity from the previous target of 250 MW to 400 MW and to increase module capacity to 800 MW. We expect to have the above new capacity fully commissioned at the beginning of 2009.

Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and CEO remarked: ”We were pleased by the demand for both our regular and e-Module products at the Intersolar Show in Munich, which was very strong for the second half of 2008 and even well into 2009. Our expected e-Module output for 2008 was sold out; we are pleased that e- Modules have been accepted by leading industry players such as Pro Solar and Iliotec. Since we have secured our supply of raw materials and are on track with our planned capacity ramp we are now comfortable in raising our guidance. Looking ahead, we are also seeing strong demand in 2009 for both our regular and e-Modules. To meet this demand the Board has authorized an increase in capital expenditures to accelerate our planned capacity ramp. This will position us well to deliver on our customers’ volume requirements for 2009 and allows us to use the e-Module program to strategically develop PV markets both within and outside of Europe such as the US and South Korea.”

Canadian Solar Announces Conversion Rate for Conversion Offer for its 6.0% Convertible Senior Notes due 2017

Filed under: CSIQ — Tags: , — Jason @ 8:30 am

Tuesday June 17, 8:30 am ET

JIANGSU, China, June 17 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ — Canadian Solar Inc. (“CSI”) (CSIQ) announced today that the increased conversion rate for its 6.0% Convertible Senior Notes due 2017 (the “Notes”) in connection with its offer to convert such Notes has been determined to be 53.6061 common shares per $1,000 principal amount of the Notes. The conversion rate was previously 50.6073 common shares per $1,000 principal amount of the Notes. On May 27, 2008, CSI commenced an offer to holders of the Notes to convert their Notes into CSI’s common shares at an increased conversion rate equal to the sum of (i) 50.6073 common shares plus (ii) $117.00 in the form of additional common shares at the daily volume-weighted average price of CSI’s common shares for the ten trading days from and including June 3, 2008 to and including June 16, 2008. Such daily volume-weighted average price is $39.02.

Details of the conversion offer are set forth in a Tender Offer Statement on Schedule TO, conversion offer memorandum and other related materials filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 27, 2008, as amended and supplemented from time to time, which are available on the SEC’s website at http://www.sec.gov . CSI has appointed Georgeson Inc. as information agent in connection with the conversion offer. Any questions or request for assistance or for additional copies of the conversion offer memorandum or related documents may be directed to the information agent at Georgeson Inc., 199 Water Street, 26th Floor, New York, New York 10038, (800) 223-2064. Piper Jaffray & Co. acted as CSI’s financial advisor in connection with the conversion offer, and can be contacted at (877) 371-5212 toll free.

This press release is not an offer or solicitation for the conversion of the Notes into common shares. The conversion offer is being made only through the conversion offer memorandum and related materials filed with the SEC. These materials contain important information that should be read carefully before any decision is made with respect to the conversion offer.

June 16, 2008

Intel, IBM Get Solar Exposure

Filed under: IBM, INTC — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 11:33 pm

Brian Caulfield, 06.16.08, 11:33 PM ET

Intel and International Business Machines have joined the parade of technology companies making alternative-energy plays, announcing Monday separate efforts to put their manufacturing smarts to work cranking out solar cells.

Intel and IBM already have plenty of relevant manufacturing and materials know-how, with IBM’s PowerPC processors competing with Intel’s ubiquitous x86 processors to power high-end servers.

IBM and Intel, however, are taking very different approaches, with Intel tapping into its long experience working with slabs of silicon and IBM pursuing a technology based on thin, flexible films developed at its research arm.

Intel said Monday it will spin off a new venture, dubbed SpectraWatt, that will build a factory in Oregon in the second half of this year and begin sending solar modules to customers by the middle of next year.

Intel will lead a $50 million investment in SpectraWatt, an effort that will be spun out of the company’s new business initiatives arm. Other investors include Goldman Sachs subsidiary Cogentrix Energy, PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund, and Solon AG.

IBM’s approach is based on a process developed by IBM Research to crank out so-called thin-film solar cells based on copper, indium, gallium and selenide.

Solar cells, which convert light to electricity, have long relied on silicon, the same material upon which companies such as IBM and Intel build computer chips.

The idea behind thin-film solar cells, however, is to work with flexible films, slashing costs while creating solar cells that can be wrapped around walls or even incorporated into tinted windows. It’s an idea being pursued by a clutch of start-ups, in addition to IBM.

The goal, according to IBM, is to create solar cells that convert 15% of the energy that hits each cell from sunlight into useable electricity, up from a range of between 6% and 12% today. The technology giant will collaborate with Japanese manufacturer Tokyo Ohka Kogyo on the project.

Energy Conversion Devices’ Converts

Filed under: ENER — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 6:35 pm

Carl Gutierrez, 06.16.08, 6:35 PM ET

Energy Conversion Devices just keeps looking better.

By the end of trading on Monday shares of the Rochester Hills, Mich.-based solar company gained 14.7%, or $9.87, to close at $76.86. While the major indexes have slipped since the beginning of 2008, Energy Conversion Devices has gained no less than 128.4%. The lion’s share of that growth has come since the company reported stellar third quarter results in early-May. (See: “Black Ink Lights Up Energy Conversion Devices”)

Monday’s rise though comes in the wake of the Intersolar 2008 in Munich, the world’s largest solar technology trade show. “It was apparent that demand for their products is doing very well,” said Rob Stone, an analyst at Cowen and Company. Unlike standard solar panels, which are attached to rooftops, Energy Conversion Devices’ solar laminates function as building material.

Energy Conversion Devices has historically struggled to obtain profitability. Since Chief Executive Mark Morelli took the helm in September of 2007, the company has turned its focus to commercialization rather than research.

“They’ve been managing the business in a more detailed way, and have been managing towards profit rather than technology development,” Colin Rusch of Broadpoint Capital noted after the company reported its third quarter results. “For example they’ve been doing things like tracking the production process on a daily rather than quarterly or monthly basis, and cutting costs on the operation side.”

Increased product demand and manufacturing efficiency is coupled by the company’s scale expansion. Energy Conversion Devices looks to increase its capacity to 300 mega watts by the end of its fiscal 2010 year. Stone expects that to translate to sales of $690.0 million, well ahead of the $113.6 million reported at the end of 2007. By 2012 the company expects to produce one gigawatt worth of material.

“Customers are saying they’re happy to buy more of the product,” Stone said, “backlog has increased significantly in the last couple of weeks and should go up more. They’re increasing their capacity and the profit from that capacity will be materially higher.”

In an indication of Wall Street’s confidence in the company’s future, Monday’s rise comes only a few days after the company announced on Thursday that it would be offering 4.7 million shares and $225.0 million worth of debt. Although this kind of offering would usually lead to a drop in share price, the market demonstrating that it believes the growth in sales and margins will overwhelm the dilution.

Intel spins off assets to form solar cell company

Filed under: AMAT, INTC, SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 5:15 pm

By Benjamin Pimentel, MarketWatch
Last update: 5:15 p.m. EDT June 16, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Intel Corp. on Monday said it will spin off key assets of its new business initiatives group to form an independent company that makes solar energy cells.

The move highlights the bid of chips companies and chip equipment makers to explore new opportunities in the growing solar energy market.

Intel (INTC) said its investment unit, Intel Capital, is taking part in a $50 million investment in a company called SpectraWatt Inc., which will make photovoltaic cells for solar module makers. Solar cells are components used to turn sunlight into electrical power.

Intel is forming the new company with Cogentrix Energy, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund and Solon AG. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.
SpectraWatt will break ground on its manufacturing and advanced technology development facility in Oregon in the second half of 2008. First shipments are expected by mid-2009.

Intel said the solar-energy industry is expected to grow 30% to 40% annually.

Other companies in the chips and chip-making equipment industries have expanded into that market. Three years ago, Cypress Semiconductor (CY) spun off SunPower Corp., which also makes solar cells.
Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT) has moved more aggressively into the market for equipment used for making solar panels, which analysts say has helped the company weather the uncertainty in the tech market.

Benjamin Pimentel is a MarketWatch reporter based in San Francisco.

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