North Coast Solar Stocks

October 13, 2009

Solar Stocks Slide On Worries Over German Subsidies

Filed under: CSIQ, ENER, ESLR, FSLR, SPWR, STP, WFR, YGE — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 2:23 pm

By Eric Savitz
barrons.com

Uh-oh.

For years, Germany has been by the far the world’s largest solar market, thanks to an extremely lucrative feed-in-tariff program. But the cost of the program has become a political issue in Germany recently. And now a spokesman for the ruling Christian Democrats has warned that the government intends to reduce incentives for generating solar power as early as next year.

According to Bloomberg, Joachim Pfeiffer, the “energy spokesman” for the party, noted that there has been a massive increase in solar capacity in the country, at a time when solar-power panel prices have plummeted. “We will review the overall renewable energy law in 2011 but will undertake reductions in solar subsidies taking effect as soon as next year,” Pfeiffer said. Solar panel owners are paid as much as 43 Euro cents per kilowatt hour of power generated; Bloomberg says, while consumers in Germany generally pay about 20 euro cents per KwH.

In a research note this morning, Citigroup analyst Timothy Arcuri notes that the government’s stance is “decidedly more negative” than original expectations.

Arcuri says the news could be a temporary positive, pulling some solar projects forward to avoid missing the window on the current FIT structure. But longer term, it clearly is not good news.

Arcuri says that of the companies he covers, First Solar (FSLR) has the most exposure, with about 70% of sales in Germany; SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) has about 20% exposure. Arcuri writes that he continues to expect 2010 to be a year of “profitless prosperity” for the solar sector, “in which profits contracts even in a year of more significant demand growth.”

Among the solar stocks:

* First Solar is down $3.40, or 2.1%, to $156.60.
* SunPower is down 27 cents, or 0.8%, to $32.55.
* SunTech (STP) is down 63 cents, or 4%, to $15.18.
* Yingli Green Energy (YGE) is down 31 cents, or 2.3%, to $13.29.
* Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) is down 73 cents, or 5.8%, to $11.79.
* Canadian Solar (CSIQ) is down 48 cents, or 2.6%, to $17.57.
* MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) is down 75 cents, or 4.6%, to $15.69.
* Evergreen Solar (ESLR) is down a penny at $1.81.

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