North Coast Solar Stocks

August 21, 2008

Solar ETFs Warm Up As Oil Prices Recover

Filed under: GEX, KWT, LDK, PBW, PUW, QCLN, SPWR, STP, TAN — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 6:28 pm

Thursday August 21, 6:28 pm ET
Trang Ho

Solar energy ETFs heated up this week as companies beat Wall Street earnings estimates, and oil prices climbed higher.

So far this week, Claymore/MAC Global Solar Index (TAN) rose 6.7% to 25.73. But it hangs 16% below its high.

Market Vectors Solar Energy (KWT) rose 7.3% to 39.31 and trades 13% below its high. They both cleared their 10-week averages for the first time in two months. They debuted in April with similar holdings and since have formed similar chart patterns. The former owns a slightly higher Relative Strength Rating of 60 vs. 54 for the latter.

Market Vectors-Global Alternative Energy (GEX) has the highest RS Rating among alternative energy ETFs. It rose 6.1% this week to 52.01 and cleared both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages.

First Trust Nasdaq Clean Edge U.S. (QCLN), PowerShares WilderHill Progressive Energy (PUW) and PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy (PBW) are trading far below their long-term averages and so their charts still look bearish. They’ve trended in a sideways range since the beginning of July.

Strong Global Demand

Suntech Power (STP), a major holding in all of these except the WilderHill ETF, blasted 19% in two days to 44.70 in heavy volume. The Chinese solar cell maker increased earnings 41% from the year-ago period to 41 cents a share, 28% above estimates. Sales jumped 51% to $480 million. Earnings popped 48% to 75% the three prior quarters. Sales leaped 76% to 137% over those periods.


March 29, 2008

Clean-Energy Funds

Filed under: FSLR, GEX, PBD, PBW — Tags: , — Jason @ 12:00 pm

March 30, 2008

First Solar (FSLR) has been one of the hottest stocks of the past 12 months. In 2007, this solar- panel manufacturer saw a 40-fold increase in profit, and euphoric investors have celebrated by pushing it to a recent $229 a share from a 52-week low of $51.50.

It wasn’t too long ago that so-called clean-energy stocks like First Solar were considered fringe players. But as consumers and even chief executives grow tired of paying record gas and oil prices and contemplating the ramifications of global warming, there’s been a sea change in the attitude toward these alternative investments.

The exchange-traded funds industry has long seen that potential. Over the past three years, it’s launched a half-dozen funds that give shareholders exposure to solar and wind companies, energy-technology firms and infrastructure plays. For the most part, these funds have been decent investments. PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy (PBW), the grandfather of the group, returned an impressive 59% last year.

These funds have not been immune to the economic concerns weighing on the stock market, however. After its impressive gains last year, PowerShares WilderHill is down about 28% this year, while PowerShares Global Clean Energy fund (PBD) has fallen 19% and Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy (GEX) is down 21%

Nevertheless, the industry is still attracting a wide range of investors. Some, like J.D. Steinhilber, founder of Agile Investing in Nashville, have built small 3% positions to help diversify larger portfolios.

Of course, there are risks that have scared off many investors. Even though the clean-energy industry is just now coming into its own, many stock pickers have already discovered it. Despite a recent retreat in prices, some of these companies still look pricey.


August 13, 2007

The Sun Shines Brightly On Clean, Green ETF

Filed under: EMKR, PBW, SPWR, TSL — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 7:00 pm

Monday August 13, 7:00 pm ET
Joanne Von Alroth

It can be easy being green — if you look in the right place. For investors with a piece of PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy Fund PBW, in fact, it’s a breeze. The small-cap growth exchange traded fund tracks the performance of the WilderHill Clean Energy Index, which focuses on clean and renewable energy providers. Founded by former environmental technology researcher Robert Wilder, the two-year-old fund holds 43 stocks with an average market cap of $1.2 billion. It’s the largest of its kind. While it has been a volatile performer over the past year because of its tight focus, it was the best performing ETF last week. The fund’s year-to-date return, as of Monday, was slightly more than 22%.


The fund’s IBD Relative Strength Rating has jumped from 55 in April to 86 as of Monday. This is in spite of the fund’s earnings per share falling 14% this year, from $22.38 in 2006 to $19.29 in 2007. So what’s with the strong performance? The top-10 holdings have taken a slight hit the past couple of days along with the rest of the market.

But analysts note there’s an ever-increasing demand for alternative energy, especially with traditional fuel source prices so high. To a company, every one of this ETF’s top holdings has helped keep a strong wind in this fund’s sails.

Take one of its largest holdings, American Superconductor. The company makes products that improve the cost, efficiency and reliability of electric power systems used in wind farms and ship propulsion. It has posted negative earnings for years, but the company’s burly 99 RS reflects recent new highs and management’s announcement that revenue will increase this year. Another top holding, Emcore, last week announced a record-breaking conversion efficiency for its multi-junction solar cells. Emcore officials also said they are increasing solar-cell production capacity to meet growing demand. The news pushed the stock to new highs as it surged off the 10-week line.

Solar Company

SunPower is another of the fund’s strong performers. Its stock reached an all-time high Thursday after the company announced it raised $167.4 million with an equity offering to fund growth and pre-payments for a new silicon deal.

In June, the San Jose, Calif.-based maker of high-performance solar electric technology signed a 10-year silicon supply agreement with Hemlock Semiconductor, with deliveries beginning in 2010. SunPower’s earnings growth has remained in triple digits for the past three quarters. The company has a 98 RS.

Chinese manufacturer of solar modules Trina Solar, another top holding, has been shining. The firm is expanding quickly, trying to make its solar modules more effective. Though earnings have slowed, it’s seen an increase in revenue despite high raw materials prices.

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