North Coast Solar Stocks

November 5, 2009

Evergreen Solar says has enough cash, shares up

Filed under: ESLR, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 11:45 am

Thu Nov 5, 2009 11:45am EST

* U.S. solar co expects to have $115 mln cash before end Q4

* Accelerates strategy to outsource work in China

* Shares up 1.4 pct at $1.44

LOS ANGELES, Nov 5 (Reuters) – U.S. solar company Evergreen Solar Inc (ESLR) has “significant” cash to meet its operating needs, the company’s chief financial officer said on Thursday on a conference call with investors, as the company’s shares rose slightly in trading.

The Marlboro, Massachusetts-based company posted better than expected revenue on Wednesday and said it ended the third quarter with $91 million in cash.

“As you can see, we have significant cash to meet our operating needs,” said Michael El-Hillow, the company’s CFO.

Like other solar companies such as SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP), Evergreen has been hit by a tumble in panel prices this year amid a lack of financing for new projects and a global oversupply.

Evergreen is accelerating its strategy to outsource solar work to China as the company, faced by stiff pricing competition from Chinese rivals, races to cut costs.

By the middle of 2010, the company will start moving panel assembly from its Devens, Massachusetts, plant to China, where it is building a 100 MW plant with Jiawei Solar. The company will continue to make wafers and cells in Devens.

The move is “evidence that the operation here (in the United States) is not being cost competitive,” said Cowen and Co analyst Rob Stone.

“It’s possible that market prices are going to keep moving down faster than they can bring their cost down, which will make it difficult for them to … make a positive margin,” said Stone, who has a “neutral” rating on the company.

Evergreen cut its manufacturing cost by 17 percent to $2.24 per watt in the third quarter and plans the shift to China will drive down costs another 35 cents.

Stone said saving seemed high and that it was “less clear” how much Evergreen will be able to maintain its pricing premium with the move to China.

At its current model, Evergreen sees that it can break even on cash-flow at $2 per watt.

Before the end of 2010, the company expects to have a cash balance of $115 million and to need $69 million through late next year for its factories in the United States and China and for other items.

The company is also seeking to increase the number of its authorized shares to 450 million from 250 million, a move El-Hillow called “prudent” to maximize its liquidity.

Shares of Evergreen were up 1.4 percent at $1.44 on Thursday in late morning trading on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Gunna Dickson)

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