North Coast Solar Stocks

April 30, 2009

Evergreen Solar posts 1st-qtr loss, shares dive

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 5:44 pm

Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:44pm EDT

* Net loss of 40 cents per share

* Second-quarter production will be below capacity

* Subcontracting some production to China’s Jiawei Solar

* Stock down 13.6 percent after hours

By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES, April 30 (Reuters) – Evergreen Solar Inc (ESLR) reported a quarterly net loss on Thursday and said second-quarter production would be below targets as the economic downturn and weak credit markets have depressed demand for solar power, sending shares down percent.

Evergreen also said it would subcontract some of its wafer manufacturing to China’s Jiawei Solar (Wuhan) Co. It had previously said it was looking into subcontracting some manufacturing to save on capital costs.

The first-quarter net loss was $64.3 million, or 40 cents per share, compared with a loss of $25,000, or break-even per share, a year ago.

The results included one-time charges of $43.9 million, mostly for writing down a loan receivable and related interest in French silicon maker Silicium de Provence, or Silpro.

Earlier this month, Silpro entered a procedure similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States.

Excluding those charges, Reuters Estimates said the company lost 9 cents per share, in line with Wall Street analysts’ average estimate.

(more…)

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Evergreen Solar Posts Large Q1 Loss On Loan Writedown

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 4:36 pm

Posted by Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Evergreen Solar (ESLR) this afternoon posted Q1 revenue of $55.8 million, ahead of the Street consensus of $49.2 million. But the company posted a loss for the quarter of 40 cents a share, much larger than the Street consensus of 8 cents. The miss largely reflects a $43.9 million write-off of a loan and related interest to a “future silicon supplier,” as well as $3.5 million in startup-costs for manufacturing facilities and $1.8 million in costs related to the shutdown of a facility in Marlboro, Mass.

The company said it it produced 18.2 MW in the quarter, up from 8.5 MW in Q4, and sold 17.3 MW at an average selling price of $3.13 per watt, down from $3.39 in Q4.

In a sign that solar demand remains weak, despite the impressive results yesterday from First Solar, Evergreen also said that while it could meet its production goal of 30 MW in Q2, “softness in demand due to tight credit markets and uncertain economic conditions,” will likely result in production and sales in the 20-25 MW range. The company said it is on target to reach capacity of 40 MW of production at its Devens plant by the end of 2009, with manufacturing costs of about $2 a watt.

Gross margin in the latest quarter fell to 1.2%, from 4.6% in Q4, and 33.6% a year ago.

Meanwhile, the company also announced an agreement to expand production with a subcontractor in Wuhan, China. The facility there is expected to have capacity for 100 MW at launch in Q2 2010, with capacity for 500 MW by 2012. The new facility will cost between $40 million and $50 million, the company said. Evergreen said it will seek financing for about two third of that. The company said the facility should be able to produce panels in the range of $1.40 to $1.50 a watt initially, with a reduction to $1 a watt by the end of 2012.

In late trading, ESLR is down 32 cents, or 13.2%, to $2.11.

SunPower Announces Full Exercise of Overallotment Options for Offerings of 10,350,000 Shares of Class A Common Stock and $230 Million of Senior Convertible Debentures

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 4:30 pm

Thursday April 30, 2009, 4:30 pm EDT

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based provider of high efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, today announced that the underwriters of its public offerings are exercising their overallotment options to purchase an additional 1,350,000 shares of the company’s class A common stock and $30.0 million aggregate principal amount of 4.75% senior convertible debentures due 2014. The options were granted in connection with the company’s previously announced public offerings of 9,000,000 shares of class A common stock at $22.00 per share and $200 million aggregate principal amount of senior convertible debentures. Including the exercise of the overallotment options, the aggregate net proceeds of the offerings are expected to be approximately $417.6 million, after deducting the underwriters’ discounts and commissions and estimated offering expenses payable by the company (including approximately $26.3 million paid as the cost of certain convertible hedge and warrant transactions entered into in connection with the debenture offering).

The senior convertible debentures will bear interest at a rate of 4.75% per year, payable on April 15 and October 15 of each year, commencing on October 15, 2009. The debentures will mature on April 15, 2014. Holders may require the company to repurchase all or a portion of their debentures upon a fundamental change (as defined in the applicable prospectus supplement) at a cash repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount plus accrued and unpaid interest. SunPower may not redeem the debentures prior to the maturity date.

The senior convertible debentures are convertible into shares of SunPower’s class A common stock initially at a conversion rate of 37.8788 shares (equivalent to an initial conversion price of approximately $26.40 per share) per $1000 principal amount of debentures, at any time on or prior to the close of business on the business day immediately preceding the maturity date. The applicable conversion rate may adjust in certain circumstances, including upon a fundamental change. Additional details are available in the prospectus and the applicable prospectus supplement to which this communication relates, which are filed with the SEC.

The debentures will be SunPower’s senior unsecured obligations and will rank equal in right of payment with all of its existing and future senior unsecured indebtedness. The debentures will be effectively subordinated to the company’s secured indebtedness to the extent of the value of the related collateral and structurally subordinated to indebtedness and other liabilities of the company’s subsidiaries.

Closing of the public offerings of shares and debentures, including the exercise of the overallotment options, is expected to occur on May 4, 2009. The closing of each offering is not contingent on the other.

(more…)

First Solar rallies after profit triples

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:24 pm

By Steve Gelsi, MarketWatch
Last update: 4:24 p.m. EDT April 30, 2009

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Wall Street analysts on Thursday hiked their targets for First Solar as shares of the largest U.S.-based solar panel maker by market capitalization rallied on better-than-expected profits.

First Solar (FSLR) jumped 24% to $187.29 a share, their highest level since last October.

After the bell on Wednesday, the company said its first-quarter profit rose to $164.6 million, or $1.99 a share, from $46.6 million, or 57 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Revenue rose to $418.2 million from $196.9 million.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet Research estimated earnings of $1.52 a share on revenue of $396.5 million. First Solar also said it has started looking for a new chief executive to succeed Michael Ahearn, who will remain as chairman.

Analysts at Wedbush Morgan Securities raised their 2009 earnings estimate for First Solar to $7.06 a share from $6.37 a share.

The company continues its cost leadership position and remains on target to reach 65 cents per watt by 2012, down from 93 cents per watt now, analysts noted.

Analysts flagged some headwinds faced by First Solar, however, on the slower economy and constraints in the credit system.

“The current financial market and the lack of credit financing in the near term contain our outlook,” analysts Al Kaschalk and Christine Hersey said in a note to clients.

“Given its low cost strategy, non-polysilicon dependent product (commercial glass) and niche market targeted at utilities, we believe the company can remain competitive in the current environment where (prices) are dropping rapidly due to over supply of modules and poly players deal with rapid decline in poly prices,” they said.

Meanwhile, analysts a Jefferies & Co. upped their price target on First Solar to $215 a share from $170 a share after the better-than-expected results past expectations.

“First Solar’s cost structure will remain sufficient to post robust margins even if silicon prices continue to decline,” analysts at Jefferies said. “We see few instances where First Solar’s margins would need to decline significantly below already projected levels over the next few years.”

Evergreen Solar Announces Wafer Factory and Subcontractor Relationship in China

Filed under: ESLR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:02 pm

Jiawei Solar to Provide Cell and Panel Manufacturing Services

Thursday April 30, 2009, 4:02 pm EDT

MARLBORO, Mass. and WUHAN, China–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Evergreen Solar, Inc. (ESLR), a manufacturer of String Ribbon™ solar power products with its proprietary, low-cost silicon wafer technology, today announced it has entered into a frame agreement with Jiawei Solar (Wuhan) Co. and the Wuhan Donghu New Technology Development Zone Management Committee which calls for a significant expansion of String Ribbon wafer manufacturing in Wuhan, China. The parties expect to finalize the terms of the manufacturing relationship over the next 90 days, including obtaining project financing and other approvals and permits, and plan to begin production in the second quarter of 2010.

Under the agreement,

* Evergreen Solar will manufacture String Ribbon wafers using its state of the art Quad furnaces at a leased facility being built in Wuhan, China on Jiawei’s campus.
* Jiawei will process String Ribbon wafers into Evergreen Solar-branded panels on a subcontract basis.
* Evergreen Solar will reimburse Jiawei for its cell and panel conversion costs, plus subcontractor fee. The actual price paid to Jiawei will be negotiated annually.
* The Wuhan government will provide, or coordinate with other Chinese governmental agencies, various incentives, including guarantees necessary to obtain third-party bank or other financing.
* Initial capacity is expected to be approximately 100 MW and the parties intend to expand production capacity to approximately 500 MW by 2012, the timing and extent of which will be determined in 2010.

The establishment of our wafer manufacturing facility and the subcontractor relationship with Jiawei remains subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions, including financing, various import/export and construction permits and the negotiation of definitive agreements between Evergreen Solar and Jiawei.

“We are thrilled about our new relationship with Jiawei and the support that we are receiving from the Wuhan Management Committee, said Richard M. Feldt, Chairman, CEO and President. The cost of our 100 MW wafer facility will be between $40 million and $50 million and we will seek financing for about two thirds of that amount, reducing our portion of initial capital required to approximately $15 million to $20 million.

“Combining our unique low-cost String Ribbon wafer manufacturing technology with Jiawei’s proven low cost manufacturing capabilities will result in a compelling value proposition for our customers and the solar industry. At full capacity of about 25 MW per quarter by the end of 2010, we expect that total manufacturing cost of String Ribbon panels produced in China, including Jiawei’s subcontractor fee, will be in the range of $1.40 per watt to $1.50 per watt. As the price of silicon returns to its historic level of about $50 per kilogram and as both companies work together to improve technologies and reduce manufacturing costs, we believe that total manufacturing cost could be reduced to approximately $1.00 per watt by the end of 2012,” Feldt concluded.

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Evergreen Solar Announces 2009 First Quarter Results

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

Devens Factory Production Sequentially Doubles to 18 MW

Thursday April 30, 2009, 4:01 pm EDT

MARLBORO, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Evergreen Solar, Inc. (ESLR), a manufacturer of String Ribbon™ solar power products with its proprietary, low-cost silicon wafer technology, today announced financial results for the first quarter ended April 4, 2009.

“The capacity expansion of our Devens facility remains on the original schedule that we established in the summer of 2007,” said Richard M. Feldt, Chairman, CEO and President. “For the first quarter of 2009, we produced 18.2 MW, more than double the 8.5 MW that we produced in the fourth quarter of 2008, and we sold 17.3 MW at an average selling price of $3.13 per watt compared to $3.39 per watt for the fourth quarter of 2008.

“While we could meet our second quarter production goal of approximately 30 MW, softness in demand due to tight credit markets and uncertain economic conditions will likely result in production and sales volume of 20 MW to 25 MW,” continued Mr. Feldt.

“We still expect to have the capability to produce about 40 MW per quarter at Devens by the end of 2009 and achieve our target manufacturing costs of approximately $2 per watt at that production level,” Mr. Feldt concluded.

First Quarter 2009 Financial Results

Revenues for the first quarter of 2009 were $55.8 million, including $1.4 million of fees from our Sovello joint venture, compared to $44.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2008, including $3.1 million of fees and $22.9 million for the first quarter of 2008, including $4.7 million of fees.

Gross margin for the first quarter of 2009 was 1.2%, compared to 4.6% for the fourth quarter of 2008 and 33.6% for the first quarter of 2008. The decrease from last year was due to lower average selling prices and lower fees from Sovello.

Net loss for the first quarter of 2009 was $64.3 million, or $0.40 per share, and includes charges of $43.9 million for the write-off of our loan receivable and related interest from a future silicon supplier, $3.5 million of facility start-up costs for the second phase of Devens and Midland string factory, and $1.8 million of on-going costs associated with the closure of the Marlboro pilot facility.

Net loss for the fourth quarter of 2008 was $52.1 million, or $0.32 per share, and included charges of $23.1 million for the closure of the Marlboro pilot facility, $9.7 million of facility start-up costs for Devens and Midland and $8.0 million for the write-off of certain research and development equipment. Net loss for the first quarter of 2008 was $25,000.

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First Solar Rockets Higher; An Exception To The Rule

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 1:12 pm

Posted by Eric Savitz
barrons.com

In an otherwise grim environment for the solar sector, First Solar (FSLR) yesterday posted stellar Q1 results, and provided the catalyst for today’s big jump in the company’s stock price. But be careful about extrapolating First Solar’s success to other solar companies: Unlike most of the industry, FSLR does not rely on polysilicon to produce its modules, which insulates the company from the volatile poly market. Among the company’s charms is the fact that it has been producing solar modules at a much lower cost than its silicon-based rivals – and in fact asserted on a conference call with the Street yesterday that its own approach would be competitive even if poly prices went to zero.

Meanwhile, note that the company on the call said that it has begun to seek a successor for CEO Michael Ahearn, who will eventually move into the chairman’s role and focus on lobbying for changes in government energy policy.

The analysts were for the most part falling all over themselves to heap praise on First Solar this morning; many raised price targets, most raised estimates, and even the bears conceded that the company produced a pretty impressive quarter. Quite a few of the analysts emphasized that First Solar is an industry standout. It would be ill-advised to think that the coming wave of earnings from other solar companies will produce similarly glowing results. Here’s a rundown on some of what they had to say:

* Sanjay Shrestha, Lazard Capital: Buy rating; target to $190, from $170. He writes that FSLR “is a prime beneficiary of the ongoing sector bifurcation with a strong balance sheet and continued ability to secure credit for large-scale projects even in the current difficult macro environment. The company has several years’ lead-time advantage in cost reduction to reach grid parity.”

* Jeff Osborne, Thomas Weisel Partners: Maintains Overweight rating; target to $200, from $190. “FSLR demonstrates its ability to rapidly scale their business, gain market share, provide a home for their product and contain costs, all exercises that have eluded many of their competitors,” he writes. “FSLR remains well positioned for longer term success and has the potential to pick up significant share in this downturn given their cost advantage.”

* Steve Milunovich, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch: Buy rating, target to $200 from $180. “The solar plague missed First Solar’s house…everything went the company’s way regarding profitability, but we have to conclude that its thin film approach is structurally advantaged in a way that even declining poly prices won’t change.”

* Craig Irwin, Merriman Curhan Ford: Buy rating, sees $180-$200 valuation. He writes that it is “time to move back the fences; First Solar is clearly in a different game than other solar manufacturers.”

* Jonathan Dorsheimer, Canaccord Adams: Buy rating, but target cut to $180, from $207 to reflect macro and business model uncertainties. He writes that “First Solar is one of the few long-term winners in the solar trend,” and adds that “contrary to many expectations on the Street, our analysis concludes that the company’s cost structure remains on track to stay competitive with to traditional silicon solar modules even ifpolysilicon, currently a significant cost component in a module, falls substantially further.”

* Mark Bachman, Pacific Crest: Outperform rating, $231 target. He notes that the upside was driven by “rapidly declining manufacturing costs,” with the Street largely focused going into the quarter on declining ASPs.

* Pavel Mochanov, Raymond James: Strong Buy rating, target to $215, from $190. “With Q1 quite possibly the bottom of the industry’s first-ever down cycle, there was no sign of those troubles in First Solar’s stellar results,” he writes. “The addition of solid utility scale project development capabilities to the world’s lowest-cost PV producer makes for a potent combination.”

* Al Kaschalk, Webush Morgan: Hold rating; target to $145, from $125.

* Ben Pang, Caris & Co.: Buy rating, target to $205, from $175.

* Jesse Pichel, Piper Jaffray: Buy rating, target to $180, from $163.

* Stephen Chin, UBS: Buy rating, target to $180, from $155.

* Dan Ries, Collins Stewart: Hold rating. He writes that there was “much to like” about the quarter, but that valuation keeps him on the sidelines.

* Theodore O’Neill, Kaufman Bros.: Keeps his Sell rating and $86 target. “We are hard pressed to find a comparable instance where a major player in an industry that is at the bottom of a 40% downturn did not see a concurrent downturn in its own business,” he writes. “We question how long this can be sustained.” He also says the assertion that FSLR would beat its rivals on price even at $0 poly “stretches the imagination.”

* Kelly Dougherty, Macquarie Research: Rating to Outperform from Neutral; target to $175, from $150. “Accelerated improvements in its cost structure should help the company weather any pricing pressure from increased competition and the margin impact of winning with the U.S. utilities,” Dougherty writes. “We remain confident that FSLR is in control of its own pricing destiny.”

* Sam Dubinksy, Oppenheimer: Maintains Perform rating, but writes “our cautious stance is waning, as the company is navigating a touch macro much better and more profitably than peers…shares still look expensive to us…through there is room for upside to our estimates if certain factors play out.”

FSLR is up – hold your breath – $35.79, or 23.6%, to $187.46.

AmTech Research upgrades Sunpower to buy

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 11:13 am

April 30, 2009, 11:59AM EST
businessweek.com

AmTech Research upgrades Sunpower (SPWRA, SPWRB) to buy from neutral. The firm notes that despite expected weakness in near-term demand, they believe the risk/reward in SPWR has now become favorable following the removal of two key overhangs. The firm believes increased legislative support coupled with an improving financing environment will lead to a return to growth in 2010, and SPWR will be well-situated to benefit through industry leading technology and exposure to the U.S. market.

Certified Steel and Nexus Properties to Build 1.2-Megawatt SunPower Solar Power System at Certified Steel Company Facility

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

Thursday April 30, 2009, 8:00 am EDT

Largest Solar Rooftop System Financed Under PSE&G’s Solar Loan Program; May Generate the Equivalent of Nearly 100 Percent of the Facility’s Power Requirement

HAMILTON, N.J., April 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Certified Steel, Nexus Properties and SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) today announced an agreement to build a 1.2-megawatt SunPower solar power system at the Certified Steel Company facility in Hamilton, N.J. The system, which is expected to be complete in July, will be the largest installation financed by PSE&G’s solar loan program to date. It is expected to generate the equivalent of nearly 100 percent of the power required by the 330,000-square-foot full line steel service center.

Approved by New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) in April 2008, the two-year pilot solar loan program allows PSE&G, the regional utility provider, to offer a loan to interested parties installing solar panels at their facilities. The loans can finance up to 60 percent of the cost of solar-panel installation. Under the agreement, Certified Steel will repay its loan with the renewable energy credits (SRECs) generated by the system.

“We are proud to take a leadership role in sustainable development, and have enjoyed the cooperation of the BPU and PSE&G,” said Andrea Sussman, managing member of Nexus Properties, the developer for the project. “The Solar Loan Program has provided a level of economic certainty that does not otherwise exist in the marketplace. Moving forward, we envision similar programs that foster private investment in solar power projects and help the state of New Jersey reach its renewable energy goals.”

“SunPower is providing turnkey design and installation services and high-efficiency solar technology to optimize the power generated by the system and the savings that Certified Steel will achieve on their electricity costs,” said Tom Leyden, managing director at SunPower. “We applaud their leadership in taking advantage of PSE&G’s Solar Loan Program. Clean, reliable solar power makes good sense today for businesses and our environment.”

At the Certified Steel site, SunPower will install a lightweight roof mount solar power system with SunPower solar panels, the most efficient panels on the commercial market.

About Certified Steel

Certified Steel is a full line steel service center that has been in business for over 51 years. With over 100 employees, they operate in a 330,000 sq. ft. processing and warehouse facility in Hamilton, NJ. For more information, visit http://www.certifiedsteel.com.

About Nexus Properties

Nexus Properties, Inc. is a family owned, full service Commercial Real Estate Development Company that has successfully existed since the mid 1970’s and currently has an owned portfolio approaching 2/million sq. ft. They provide day to day Property Management services for more than 175 tenants in their facilities and provide occupant services for over 5,000 clients and their visitors on a daily basis. In 2006 Nexus began directing its interests in renewable energy and by the third quarter of 2008 had completed two individual 200/kw solar array’s on the roof tops of its commuter parking decks in Trenton, N.J. – a first for New Jersey. Beyond this massive project currently getting underway for Certified Steel, they have a 900/kw system in the final design stages for its commuter parking facility at the Hamilton Train Station in Hamilton, N.J. Future projects are to include several of their office building roof tops and warehouse facilities.

April 29, 2009

First Solar Heats Up Otherwise Cool Field With Its Sizzling Q1

Filed under: AKNS, FSLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 6:57 pm

Wednesday April 29, 2009, 6:57 pm EDT

Investors pushed up solar stocks Wednesday in the face of mostly bad first-quarter news but ahead of a strong report after the closing bell from First Solar (FSLR).

The company said revenue more than doubled from the year-ago quarter to $418.2 million, beating analysts’ consensus estimate of $403.4 million. Earnings soared to $1.99 per share from 57 cents, shattering analyst views of $1.50.

“We’re particularly pleased we were able to sign up 479 megawatts of new volumes in Q1, particularly under the conditions the industry’s been dealing with,” First Solar CEO Mike Ahearn said on an earnings conference call late Wednesday.

“We’ve got to be focused on executing our cost-reduction road map,” he said, anticipating it could widen its price advantage.

The company also said it’s started looking for a new CEO, after which Ahearn would continue to serve in the full-time position of executive chairman.

First Solar rose about 14% after hours. The stock lifted 3.4% in regular trading, while Suntech Power Holdings (STP) vaulted more than 16% and SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) more than 10%.

The sector’s rise Wednesday was “insanity,” said Kaufman Bros. analyst Theo O’Neill. “It’s got to be massive short covering … or investors are looking into next year.”

Early Wednesday, Norway’s Renewable Energy issued results O’Neill called “disastrous.” German Conergy rose on foreign bourses after its earnings report, but O’Neill says its CEO described an “almost two-thirds overcapacity for solar” and said prices could “drop by as much as 50% this year.”

Smaller U.S. solar outfit Akeena Solar (AKNS) on Wednesday reported a loss and sales that missed views, and gave a sales outlook for the current quarter far below views.

(more…)

First Solar 1Q profit triples on new projects

Filed under: FSLR — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 6:08 pm

First Solar 1Q profit triples despite tightened bank lending as company lands new projects

Chris Kahn, AP Energy Writer
Wednesday April 29, 2009, 6:08 pm EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — First Solar (FSLR), the nation’s largest solar panel maker, reported Wednesday that first-quarter profits more than tripled as the company inked numerous new power projects and cut its production costs.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based company reported Wednesday it earned $164.6 million, or $1.99 per share, in the first quarter, compared with $46.6 million, or 57 cents per share, for the same period last year.

Quarterly sales were $418.2 million for the three months that ended March 28, up from $196.9 million during the same period last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $1.50 per share on sales of $403.67 million.

First Solar Inc., the largest solar company by market capitalization, said it reached two key production milestones this year. It built a total of 1 gigawatt of photovoltaic modules, and its manufacturing costs have dropped below $1 per watt.

CEO Michael Ahearn said the company also received orders for 479 megawatts of solar around the world. The company will supply solar modules for a 1 megawatt rooftop project in Australia and a 53 megawatt power plant in Germany. It will also build a 48 megawatt expansion to Sempra Generation’s solar power plant in Boulder City, Nev. and a 30 megawatt plant in northeastern New Mexico.

“These are very strong results, especially with the tough economic conditions we’ve been dealing with,” Ahearn said in a conference call with analysts.

Ahearn also announced Wednesday that he will step down as CEO and that the company board had already begun an external search to replace him. Ahearn said he will continue to serve as the company’s executive chairman and focus on developing public policies to help governments create low-carbon economies.

Company officials have said the global recession and tightened bank lending will squeeze profit margins this year despite federal stimulus grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy.

Ahearn said the banking industry is struggling, especially in Europe, and that will continue to weigh down the development of new projects.

“There’s a reason to be cautious until you see credit actually flowing, and we’re not seeing that,” he said.

To keep product moving, the company announced last quarter that it was forming partnerships with commercial power companies and investing in projects that are already under development to ensure they are completed.

The company released its earnings report Wednesday after the market closed. Shares increased $5.01 to close at $151.67. First Solar’s stock is now trading less than half of last year, when a spike in oil prices helped drive the company’s stock to an all-time high of $317 per share.

He said that stepping down as CEO was not meant to be a “half-step out of the business.”

“It’s more about reallocating my time to focus on external issues that I think are critical to the company and the industry.”

First Solar, Inc. Announces 2009 First Quarter Financial Results

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

Wednesday April 29, 2009, 4:01 pm EDT

TEMPE, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) today announced its financial results for the first quarter ended March 28, 2009. Quarterly revenues were $418.2 million, down from $433.7 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 and up from $196.9 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2008.

Net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2009 was $164.6 million or $1.99 per share on a fully diluted basis, up from $132.8 million or $1.61 per share on a fully diluted basis for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 and up from $46.6 million or $0.57 per share on a fully diluted basis for the first quarter of fiscal 2008.

First Solar will discuss these results and expected results for fiscal 2009 in a conference call scheduled for today at 1:30 p.m. MST (4:30 p.m. EDT). Investors may access a live audio webcast of this conference call in the Investors section of the Company’s Web site at http://www.firstsolar.com. An audio replay of the conference call will also be available approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call. The audio replay will remain available until Friday, May 1, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. EDT and can be accessed by dialing 888-286-8010 if you are calling from within the United States or 617-801-6888 if you are calling from outside the United States and entering access code 93319217. A replay of the webcast will be available on the Investor section on the Company’s Web site approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call and will remain available for 90 calendar days.

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Akeena Q1 loss widens

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 8:59 am

Wed Apr 29, 2009 8:59am EDT

* Q1 shr loss $0.17 vs est loss of $0.16
* Q1 rev down 38 percent, misses estimates
* Sees Q2 rev flat to slightly down vs yr-ago
* Says not providing annual outlook

April 29 (Reuters) – Solar power systems maker Akeena Solar Inc (AKNS) posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss, as commercial installations dropped, and said it expects second-quarter revenue to be flat to slightly down year-over-year.

The company did not provide annual outlook, citing sluggish residential build and slower-than-expected additions to the backlog of commercial installations.

Akeena, however, said it expects “modest” growth in residential sales for 2009, offset by stagnant commercial installations until late in the year when the benefits of the stimulus package are expected to begin to take effect.

Commercial sales for the latest first quarter came in at $915,000, down from $7.0 million last year. Installations for the quarter were about 945 kilowatts (kw) compared with about 1587 kw, a year ago.

Net loss for the first quarter was $5.1 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $4.6 million, or 16 cents per share, last year. Revenue was down nearly 38 percent at $7.6 million.

Analysts on average were expecting a loss of 16 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $9.8 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Shares of the company closed at $1.10 Tuesday on Nasdaq. The stock is down more than 86 percent from a year-high of $7.95 last May, mirroring other solar stocks, which have also been in free fall since the start of the year.

(Reporting by Adveith Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri)

ICP Solar Announces Fiscal 2009 Fourth Quarter Financial Results

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

Progress Continues on Path to Profitability

Wednesday April 29, 2009, 8:00 am EDT

MONTREAL–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ICP Solar Technologies Inc. (ICPR.OB), a developer, manufacturer and marketer of proprietary solar panels and products, today announced financial results for the fourth quarter and twelve months ended January 31, 2009.

Highlights for the Quarter

* Sales were $0.9 million for the fiscal fourth quarter, up 39% from $0.7 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008
* SG&A expenses declined 50% in the fourth quarter ended January 31, 2009 versus the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008
* Adjusted EBITDA was $(0.9) million for the quarter, versus $(1.8) million in the quarter ended January 31, 2008
* ICP Solar also recently announced a number of important developments, including an expanded licensing agreement with The Coleman Company, the introduction of additional long-lasting Sunsei® lighting products, and new distribution partnerships with both OutBack Power Systems and Integrated Metering Systems

“In line with what was stated when we reported preliminary results for the fourth quarter in February, ICP Solar has achieved a good deal of progress with regards to both its streamlining efforts and growth initiatives this year,” said Sass Peress, CEO. “Even with the global economy still finding its footing, we are seeing steady demand for our products and a robust order book for fiscal 2010. In addition, we continue to offer superior, innovative solutions within the market for renewable energy applications, as demonstrated by our successful rollout of the Sunsei® GreenMeter® systems in North America and abroad. We believe that the wide variety of stimulus measures being enacted across the globe – and the increasing interest in solar-powered products – will provide upward momentum to our expansion plans going forward.

“In recognition of our current positioning, expertise, and the optimism we see for the future of our industry, ICP Solar will hold its first ever earnings conference call on Wednesday, April 29th for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009. We certainly hope that many long term investors and equity research analysts can join us as we review results and discuss our growth strategy for fiscal 2010. As the economy recovers and oil prices invariably rise, we anticipate even greater interest in our unique, mobile, technology-leading solar applications. ICP Solar has never been better positioned for growth and performance improvement than it is today.”

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Akeena Solar Announces First Quarter 2009 Results

Filed under: AKNS — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 7:59 am

Wednesday April 29, 2009, 7:59 am EDT

LOS GATOS, Calif., April 29, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Akeena Solar, Inc. (AKNS), a leading designer and installer of solar power systems, announced results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2009.

“Our first quarter performance reflects the steps we have taken to reduce costs in our drive towards cash flow break even,” said Barry Cinnamon, president and chief executive officer of Akeena Solar. “We brought operating expenses down by 19.8% from last year and 24.3% from the fourth quarter through headcount reductions and other expense reduction measures. As a result, we reduced cash burn to approximately $2.7 million for the quarter, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2007.

Continued Cinnamon, “First quarter revenue came in at $7.6 million, with residential sales driving results and commercial sales remaining weak. Our diverse mix of business is providing balance in these challenging times. Gross margin increased as expected to 29.7%, reflecting the flow-through of last quarter’s inventory write-down, lower incremental costs for Andalay solar panels and improved installation efficiency. Falling panel prices are driving better solar economics for our customers and creating opportunities for a differentiated product like Andalay.

“During the quarter we moved forward with our strategy to establish a direct-to-dealer distribution channel to help scale our business and diversify our revenue streams. We signed several dealers, both large and small — including MS Solar Solutions Corp. (MSSS), a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley’s Commodities group. Akeena is MSSS’ exclusive supplier of Andalay AC solar panels for two years for projects to outfit low-income households nationwide. As the solar industry continues to evolve, we believe differentiated products such as Andalay AC solar panels will have the greatest appeal in new distribution channels,” concluded Cinnamon.

First Quarter Financial Results

Net sales for the first quarter of 2009 were $7.6 million compared to $12.2 million in net sales in the first quarter of 2008, and $10.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. The decline in the first quarter compared to the same quarter last year and the prior quarter reflects lower commercial sales of $915,000 in the first quarter of 2009, compared to $7.0 million in the first quarter of 2008, and $2.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2008. Residential installations in the first quarter of 2009 were $6.7 million or 88% of total revenue, compared to $5.3 million or 43% of total revenue in the first quarter of 2008 and $8.4 million or 78% of total revenue in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Gross profit for the first quarter of 2009 was $2.3 million, or 29.7% of sales, compared to $2.4 million, or 19.7% of sales, in the first quarter of 2008 and $1.2 million, or 10.7% of sales in the fourth quarter of 2008. On a year-over-year basis and sequentially, the increase in gross margin was due primarily to lower panel prices and lower direct labor costs.

(more…)

April 28, 2009

Canadian Solar Announces Funding Agreement with New District, City of Suzhou for Local Solar Projects

Filed under: CSIQ — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 8:34 am

Tuesday April 28, 2009, 8:34 am

TORONTO, April 28 /PRNewswire-Asia/ — Canadian Solar Inc. (“the Company”, “Canadian Solar” or “we”) (CSIQ) today announced that it has signed an agreement with the Suzhou New District, Suzhou Municipal Government to fund local solar projects. The Suzhou New District Government has agreed to provide RMB 7.5 million in matching funds in conjunction with the subsidies provided by China’s Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Constructions for building PV installations. These monies will be used to exclusively support solar projects undertaken by Canadian Solar in Suzhou New District. Other sources of project debt or equity will be arranged by the Company or by the project owners.

Dr. Qu, Chairman and CEO said: “Canadian Solar is proud to announce, in cooperation with the Suzhou New District, that we are the first to jointly develop a municipal PV program using the renewable energy stimulus funds in China. These funds will be used to capitalize commercial rooftop and BIPV projects in the region of the municipality. While this first step is a modest one, it is important for local market development. This will give the City and the Company a chance to raise awareness of the potential of solar power and to set up a model mechanism that may be duplicated elsewhere, or repeated in the future. We would like to thank the City for considering us as their partner in this venture and we look forward to its success.”

Canadian Solar Announces Potential New Credit Facilities with Three Chinese State Banks

Filed under: CSIQ — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 8:20 am

Tuesday April 28, 2009, 8:20 am EDT

TORONTO, April 28 /PRNewswire-Asia/ — Canadian Solar Inc. (the “Company”, “Canadian Solar” or “we”) (CSIQ) today announced that it has signed strategic partnership agreements with the Bank of China, the Bank of Communications, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Under the agreements, each bank may provide up to RMB 5 billion in potential credit facilities that can be used to finance domestic and overseas solar projects where Canadian Solar is the provider of solar modules. Loans may also be used for trade financing, internal corporate projects or working capital. The maximum aggregate facility size in current US dollars is approximately $2.2 billion (RMB 15 billion). Each project submitted to the banks will undergo the banks’ due diligence and approval process and detailed terms of the credit agreements will be negotiated before any credit facilities are granted. There is no assurance that any project proposal will be approved, and it is likely that each project will be financed under different terms and conditions. Canadian Solar is considering establishing a China holding company in order to more efficiently manage these and other transactions.

Dr. Qu, Chairman and CEO said: “We are pleased to announce the signing of these strategic partnership agreements in Suzhou today. At present, availability of cost effective debt financing is critical to the ongoing growth and development of the solar industry, especially solar project finance. While each project submitted to the facility will require individual approval, this facility nevertheless provides us with a potentially powerful tool to help the Company and our customers grow our businesses. We look forward to working with our Chinese and overseas banking partners and our customers worldwide.”

First Solar to Supply Modules for Australia’s Largest Solar PV Installation

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

Project at Adelaide Showground Will Highlight Advanced Photovoltaic Technology

TEMPE, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Apr. 28, 2009– First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) announced today that it will supply photovoltaic (PV) modules to Solar Shop Australia, Pty Ltd. (Solar Shop), for a 1 megawatt (MW) DC rooftop project. The solar power system, installed on six separate buildings at the Adelaide Showground in South Australia, will be the largest PV installation in the country. The rooftop system is being commissioned by the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia.

First Solar is the world’s largest manufacturer of thin film solar modules. The Company recently announced that it has produced 1 gigawatt of its PV modules since beginning commercial production. In addition, First Solar has the lowest manufacturing cost in the industry, having broken the $1 per watt price barrier by reducing its manufacturing cost to 98 cents.

“First Solar is proud to be supplying modules for the country’s largest PV system,” said John Carrington, First Solar executive vice president of marketing and business development. “This project will take one of Australia’s most abundant resources, sunlight, and convert it into clean, affordable electricity.”

“This project marks the beginning of what we expect to be a very promising future for solar energy in Australia,” said Carrington. “Australia’s policy initiatives have set the stage for the growth of affordable renewable energy, and First Solar’s advanced, cost-effective solar technology is a perfect fit.”

Solar Shop, in an alliance partnership with building and engineering company Build Environs Pty Ltd., will design and construct the 1 MW installation, which is expected to displace approximately 1500 tons of CO2 every year. Construction is anticipated to begin immediately and is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2009. The power produced by the solar installation will be used predominantly at the Adelaide Showground site, displacing power generated from conventional sources.

“Solar Shop Australia is excited to be introducing First Solar’s modules into the Australian market and particularly for use on this project, Australia’s largest solar PV installation,” said Adrian Ferraretto, Solar Shop’s managing director. “Solar Shop determined First Solar’s modules offered the best option for the Showground after considering a number of other solar technologies and the client’s specific requirements.”

About Solar Shop

Solar Shop Australia is the largest provider of grid-connected solar systems in Australia, having installed 25 percent of all systems in 2008. Using quality components sourced globally and locally, the company has helped thousands of Australian homeowners realise the benefits of solar energy over the last ten years. Solar Shop Australia is now using this knowledge and experience to develop large scale commercial projects Australia-wide. For more information please visit http://www.solarshop.com.au.

April 27, 2009

Boom and bust for Spain’s solar industry

Filed under: none — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 10:07 pm

4/27/2009 10:07:53 PM

MADRID, SPAIN: Although Spain’s solar market was once at the forefront of worldwide activity, a change in its feed-in tariff subsidy has sent the sector into a downward spiral, leaving its future in the balance as solar manufacturers cut production and staffing levels. As a result, the global solar market faces a significant setback instead of making the necessary contributions towards the EU’s 20-20-20 targets.

It is a well documented fact that subsidies can greatly increase the uptake of new technologies, such as solar photovoltaics (PV), but that changes to subsidy regimes often damage investor confidence and cause boom and bust cycles. Spain’s feed-in tariff is no exception. Now that a 500MW cap has been introduced alongside reduced subsidy levels for Spanish solar PV projects, the country’s market has contracted significantly and only expects to install 375MW of solar capacity in 2009, against 2,500MW in 2008 (out of a total of 5,500MW worldwide).

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association maintains that government support programs such as feed-in tariffs provide investors a degree of security, as PV modules have a shelf-life of 25-40 years, yet economic payback occurs in a mere 12 years. Be that as it may, the development of Spain’s much-admired solar industry is now under threat and domestic producers are likely to respond by having to export surplus capacity to growing markets in Italy, Greece and the US.

On the plus side, the current global economic turmoil has forced a reduction of 10%-20% in PV module prices, which might suggest that the effects of the technology adoption learning curve have now set in. It is, however, equally likely that an oversupply of modules brought on by the current world financial situation has further depressed prices. Increased efficiency gains – notably in the cost of thin film production – are also providing some mild relief to the country’s embattled manufacturers. However, neither price correction nor efficiency gain is sufficient to get Spain’s paralyzed solar market on the move again.

More importantly, because Spain’s market accounts for 45% of the world’s solar market, the latter’s pledge that it can provide up to 12% of European electricity demand by 2020 is looking increasingly dubious. In the fight against climate change, it appears that Europe can no longer count on the same level of contribution from the solar camp, leaving wind power generation and energy efficiency measures to meet the shortfall and attempt to deliver the EU’s 20-20-20 ambitions.

In the absence of the right framework conditions or indeed a subsidy level that is able to bring the technology to commercial parity, it seems that Spain’s feed-in tariff was an ambitious but insufficient condition to drive a sustainable mass market transition to solar PV.

Part of the responsibility for the demise of Spain’s solar industry lies squarely with the EU: the EU ‘green’ policy landscape lacks credibility and provides inadequate regulatory frameworks for the pan-European deployment of renewable technologies. Current EU policy responses have failed to set out targets past the original Kyoto timeframe and have been unsuccessful at providing a credible and sustainable carbon price, choosing instead to hand pick ‘winning’ renewable technologies. Having neglected to appropriately place renewables within the context of the wider European energy debate, 20-20-20 sounds more like a political slogan than an energy efficiency policy.

SunPower Announces Offerings of 9,000,000 Shares of Class A Common Stock and $175 Million of Senior Convertible Debentures

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 4:47 pm

Monday April 27, 2009, 4:47 pm

SAN JOSE, Calif., April 27 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — SunPower Corporation (SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based provider of high efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and solar systems, today announced that it intends to offer 9,000,000 shares of class A common stock and $175 million aggregate principal amount of senior convertible debentures due 2014, in underwritten registered public offerings. In connection with these offerings, SunPower intends to grant the underwriters an overallotment option with respect to an additional 1,350,000 shares of class A common stock and an additional $26.25 million aggregate principal amount of senior convertible debentures. Based on the closing price of SunPower’s class A common stock on The Nasdaq Global Select Market on April 24, 2009, the offerings (without giving effect to any exercise of the overallotment options) are expected to result in aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $400 million.

The debentures will be convertible into shares of SunPower’s class A common stock. The interest rate, conversion rate, conversion price and other terms of the debentures will be determined at the time of the pricing of the offering. The debentures will be senior, unsecured obligations, ranking equally with all existing and future senior unsecured indebtedness of SunPower. The debentures will be effectively subordinated to the company’s secured indebtedness to the extent of the value of the related collateral and structurally subordinated to indebtedness and other liabilities of SunPower’s subsidiaries.

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. will serve as joint book-running managers for the offerings.

In connection with the offering of senior convertible debentures, SunPower plans to enter into convertible debenture hedge and warrant transactions with affiliates of certain of the underwriters. The convertible debenture hedge transactions are intended to reduce the potential dilution upon conversion of the senior convertible debentures. SunPower expects that the counterparties will enter into various over-the-counter derivative transactions with respect to SunPower’s class A common stock concurrently with, or shortly after, the pricing of the senior convertible debenture offering and may unwind or enter into various over-the-counter derivatives and/or purchase SunPower’s class A common stock in secondary market transactions following the pricing of the senior convertible debenture offering. These activities could have the effect of increasing or preventing a decline in the price of SunPower’s class A common stock concurrently with or following the pricing of the senior convertible debenture offering.

SunPower intends to use approximately $20 million to $22 million of the proceeds from these offerings to pay the cost of these convertible debenture hedge and warrant transactions. The company also intends to use the remaining net proceeds for general corporate purposes, including working capital and capital expenditures. From time to time, SunPower will evaluate potential acquisitions and strategic transactions of business, technologies, or products, and may use a portion of the net proceeds for such acquisitions or transactions. Currently, however, the company does not have any agreements with respect to any such material acquisitions or strategic transactions. If the underwriters exercise their overallotment option with respect to the senior convertible debentures, SunPower intends to use a portion of the proceeds therefrom to increase the size of the convertible note hedge transactions and for general corporate purposes, and may also sell additional warrants.

SunPower may use a portion of the proceeds from these offerings to repurchase some of its outstanding 1.25% debentures or 0.75% debentures. The company expects that holders of its outstanding 1.25% debentures or 0.75% debentures from whom it may repurchase such debentures (which holders may include one or more of the underwriters), may have outstanding short hedge positions in its class A common stock relating to such debentures. Upon repurchase, SunPower expects that such holders will unwind or offset those hedge positions by purchasing class A common stock in secondary market transactions, including purchases in the open market, and/or entering into various derivative transactions with respect to our class A common stock. These activities could have the effect of increasing, or preventing a decline in, the market price of our class A common stock. The effect, if any, of any of these transactions and activities on the market price of its class A common stock or the debentures will depend in part on market conditions and cannot be ascertained at this time, but may be material.

The closing of each offering is not contingent on the closing of the other.

A registration statement has been filed, and a separate preliminary prospectus supplement for each of the class A common stock and senior convertible debenture offerings will be filed, with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which this communication relates. Prospective investors should read the applicable preliminary prospectus supplement and accompanying prospectus included in that registration statement and other documents SunPower has filed with the SEC for more complete information about the company and these offerings. These documents are available at no charge by visiting EDGAR on the SEC Web site at http://www.sec.gov. Alternatively, the prospectus, the class A common stock prospectus supplement and the senior convertible debenture prospectus supplement may be obtained from Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, One Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10010, (tel): 1 800-221-1037 and/or Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. Attention: Prospectus Department, 100 Plaza One, Jersey City, New Jersey 07311, (tel): 1 800-503-4611.

This announcement is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy the securities described herein, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any jurisdiction in which such an offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. The offerings of these securities will be made only by means of applicable prospectus supplements and the related prospectus. The securities being offered have not been approved or disapproved by any regulatory authority, nor has any such authority passed upon the accuracy or adequacy of the registration statement, the prospectus contained therein or the applicable prospectus supplement.

Conergy to file lawsuit against MEMC contract

Filed under: WFR — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 6:58 am

Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:58am EDT

FRANKFURT, April 27 (Reuters) – German solar company Conergy will take legal action regarding a 10-year wafer supply contract with MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR), as renegotiation talks have failed, the company said on Monday.

“The basis for this legal action is a number of invalid and, in particular, anti-competitive contractual provisions, which Conergy believes render invalid the entire contract,” the company said in a statement.

It said it would “file for the invalidity of the contract by declaratory judgment in New York City”.

Conergy’s shares plunged last week after it said that it was aiming to end the contract, under which MEMC supplies solar wafers to Conergy over a 10-year period, “using legal means if necessary”.

Shares in Conergy, which were at the bottom of Frankfurt’s technology index .TECDAX most of the day, were 13.8 percent lower at 1021 GMT.

Shares in MEMC — which posted a modest quarterly profit last Thursday — had closed up 5.2 percent on Friday.

Analysts have called the contract — which was agreed on in late 2007 — as unfavorable, pointing to negative conditions such as annual price decreases for wafers that are not in line with the market, resulting in above-market prices for Conergy.

The solar sector is currently hit by massive price decreases for cells, modules, silicon and wafer, mainly due to overcapacities that were built up before the global economic crisis.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Rupert Winchester)

April 24, 2009

MEMC Electronic shares jump after earnings report

Filed under: WFR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 11:27 am

Shares of MEMC Electronic shares climb on first-quarter profit

Friday April 24, 2009, 11:27 am EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) shares jumped on Friday after the silicon wafer maker posted a first-quarter profit helped mainly by a hefty tax gain.

Shares of the company jumped $1.27, or 8.7 percent, to $15.95 in morning trading.

The St. Peters, Mo.-based company, which sells products to the semiconductor and solar industries, said late Thursday it earned $2 million, or a penny per share, compared with a loss of $41.8 million, or 18 cents, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding nonrecurring items the company posted an operating loss of $26.4 million. Revenue fell by 57 percent in the quarter to $214 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude one-time items, were expecting a loss of 2 cents per share and revenue of $217.3 million, on average.

MEMC cited lower demand and prices for the slump in business.

Jefferies & Co. analyst Paul Clegg recommended the company’s stock, rating it “Buy” and raising his 2009 profit estimate to 62 cents from 56 cents.

“With virtually no debt and solid liquidity, we see MEMC as a clear survivor and eventual beneficiary of a market recovery,” Clegg said.

Lazard Capital Markets analyst Sanjay Shrestha said that while the company’s outlook is “choppy” in the near term, given weak wafer pricing and contract cancellation risks, it has a solid long-term outlook. Shrestha rated the company “Buy” with a price target of $18.

“Near-term volatility will likely persist until visibility improves, the risk for contract renegotiations diminishes and there is a return of investor confidence on earnings accelerations into 2010,” said Shrestha.

Texas Bill Would Boost Solar Subsidies

Filed under: FSLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 11:00 am

Pacific Crest says First Solar, SunPower and Suntech would benefit.

Pacific Crest

THE TEXAS SENATE Wednesday passed a bill that would increase the subsidies for solar installations throughout the state; the bill has been forwarded to the House for approval.

The program calls for $500 million in solar incentives; it is designed to spend $100 million each year for five years. We estimate that the program will fund solar installations between 231 megawatt (MW) and 458 MW over the life of the program. At $5 per watt, this program should be worth $1.2 billion to $2.3 billion in additional sales to the solar industry.

We find this news to be incrementally positive for First Solar (FSLR), SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Suntech Power Holdings (STP), as these are the three primary companies that can handle utility-scale applications.

At least 30% of the subsidy needs to be used for small-size applications (distributed generation), but up to 70% of the program can be used for utility-scale applications. With the program’s effective date scheduled for Sept. 1, 2009, it should be an incremental driver for demand starting in 2010.

The legislation requires initial rebates to be $2.40 per watt for installations on residential buildings, $1.50 per watt for installations on commercial buildings, and $1 per watt for installations at industrial facilities.

For the residential customer, the rebate offered in Texas is more generous than the $1.90 per watt being offered under the California Solar Initiative. The new incentive would reduce the cost of a three kilowatt (kW) residential photovoltaic solar installation by $5,040, with the payback period being reduced from approximately 14 years to approximately nine years (our analysis only considers the new state program and existing 30% federal incentive, and ignores any benefit from county- or city-based incentives). The incentive levels will decline by at least 5% annually.

Electricity consumers will ultimately be paying for the solar subsidy. The bill calls for monthly surcharges of 20 cents for individuals, $2.00 for small businesses and $20.00 for large corporations.

Jefferies cuts SunPower target on earnings miss

Filed under: SPWR — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 8:14 am

By Steve Gelsi
Last update: 8:14 a.m. EDT April 24, 2009

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Jefferies & Co. on Friday cut its price target on SunPower Corp. (SPWRA, SPWRB) to $34 a share from $40 a share after the solar chip maker’s worse-than-expected results. Facing a sharp drop in demand, SunPower lost 6 cents a share in its first quarter, with adjusted net income of 5 cents a share. SunPower fell short of Jefferies’ profit target of 20 cents a share. Analyst Paul Clegg summed up the quarter as “weak.” During the quarter, SunPower signaled its business was slowing down, but the company’s actual revenue decline of 22% to $214 million “disappointed even further,” Jefferies noted. Shares of SunPower fell 7% to $24 in pre-market trades on Friday.

April 23, 2009

BP to provide solar power systems for Wal-Mart stores

Filed under: none — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 6:05 pm

4/23/2009 6:05:55 PM

CALIFORNIA: BP Solar, a part of BP Alternative Energy, has been selected to provide photovoltaic solar power systems for Wal-Mart stores in California.

Under a power purchase agreement (PPA) negotiated for the projects, BP Solar will finance, install and maintain the systems and Wal-Mart will have immediate access to clean electricity with no up front capital cost to the retailer.

BP Solar has said it will initially focus on building 10 to 20 rooftop systems at Wal-Mart locations in California, and will work with Wal-Mart to evaluate the potential for additional projects. BP Solar expects to complete the first set of projects, totaling up to 10MW of installed solar power, within about 18 months.

Under the PPA, Wal-Mart is purchasing all of the energy produced by the solar power systems and BP Solar will operate and maintain the systems.

Reyad Fezzani, CEO of BP Solar, said: “BP is pleased to expand our energy supply relationship with Wal-Mart through this series of new projects. BP’s solar power systems have been shown to reliably perform for more than 25 years and this reliability, when combined with no up front capital cost, will help drive further development of large-scale solar projects in California and elsewhere.”

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