North Coast Solar Stocks

December 7, 2009

Solar ETFs Rally As Climate Talks Start

Filed under: FSLR, JASO, KWT, SPWR, STP, TAN, TSL — Tags: , , , , , , — Jason @ 6:48 pm

By Trang Ho
6:48 pm EST, Monday December 7, 2009

Solar energy stocks led the market higher Monday on several analyst upgrades. In addition, the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, kicked off and the Environmental Protection Agency reported greenhouse gases are endangering people’s health and must be regulated.

Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy (TAN) rose 3% to 10.07 in a little less than average volume. Shares broke above their 50-day moving average last week in scant volume.

The ETF has traded in a price channel between 8 and 11 for the past seven months. It has returned 27% year to date vs. 22% for the S&P 500. It carries Relative Strength and Accumulation/Distribution Ratings of 54 and B-.

Market Vectors Solar Energy (KWT) surged 4.7% to 15.31 in higher than usual volume. Shares have traded in a sideways band between about 12 and 16 for the past six months.

KWT has gained 18% this year. Its 44 RS and B- Acc/Dis Ratings are technically weaker than TAN’s.

“If both TAN and KWT break out above the channels they are trading in, then expect them to move to the price level of the recent high,” said Tom Bulkowski, a technical analyst and founder of “That means TAN could run to 11.50 and KWT to 18.”

Industry Developments

Barclays Capital upgraded JA Solar Holdings (JASO), SunPower (SPWRA, SPWRB) and Suntech Power Holdings (STP) Monday to overweight from equal weight. The three companies popped 10% to 12% on the news.

Suntech Power said last week it won a 17-megawatt supply contract for 2010 from a Canadian firm. Its shares have spiked 68% year to date.

A top holding in both ETFs, First Solar (FSLR), added to last week’s gains and closed at 135.05 in average volume. The stock has been trending lower, forming lower lows and lower highs, since May. It trades below both its 200- and 50-day moving averages. It is flat for the year.

Shares rallied Thursday. They continued higher Friday after Collins Stewart upgraded the stock to buy from hold. Pricing pressures in the solar market eased in recent months and demand is beginning to pick up, analyst Dan Ries wrote in a client note. First Solar fared better than its competitors during the recession because its cadmium-telluride panels are cheaper to make than the silicon-based ones that dominate the market.


October 26, 2009

Solar Stocks Ready For A Big Move

Filed under: ENER, FSLR, SPWR, TAN, YGE — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 4:19 pm

Posted: Oct 26, 2009 16:19 PM by Joey Fundora

The solar stocks continue to be one of the more volatile groups in the markets. Traders often fear high levels of volatility, but if these are properly planned for, volatile stocks can offer outstanding trading opportunities. The solar stocks have been in a large range over the past year, and many of these stocks actually set their lows in November rather than March. This group has often been cited by the current administration as a focal point in helping to reduce the U.S. dependence on oil-rich countries, and while it has threatened to fall apart several times, it has continually found a floor.

This group is once again under pressure as a poor earnings report from SunPower Corporation (SPWRA, SPWRB) kicked off this earnings season, as the markets reacted poorly to the company’s guidance number. While this stock individually came under pressure, as a group there wasn’t major technical damage done. In looking at the Claymore/MAV Global Solar Energy Index ETF (TAN), which can be used as a proxy for the sector, you can see that TAN held up last week, despite the weak report by SPWRA. In looking at the chart, there is an interesting pattern developing. Overall, TAN remains in a trading range, but it was able to clear a descending wedge in September, and is currently trading in a small symmetrical triangle. Both of these patterns are simply consolidation patterns, but with TAN clearing the first to the upside, it may hint at a break to the upside from the second pattern as well. The descending trendline touching the last two price highs should be watched as a level of importance.


The largest component in TAN is First Solar, Inc. (FSLR). With FSLR reporting on Wednesday, it could be the catalyst for a move in either direction for the group. The company’s last earnings report was met with steep selling, as FSLR pulled back from $176.05 to $112.09 in a few weeks’ time. FSLR did stabilize, and rallied back to a declining trendline, marking the tops of prior rally attempts. It recently cleared this trendline, and it continues to trade in a tighter consolidation leading into the earnings report. More than likely, FSLR will have a large move this week, but with earnings coming out, which direction it’s headed is anyone’s guess. However, this stock will likely impact the entire sector, so it is worth watching to help gauge the direction for the next quarter.


Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ENER) is another solar that has been showing weakness for a few months, but recently cleared a declining trendline that halted recent rally attempts. It just cleared this area, and has been experiencing an uptick in volume. Earnings are not due until November, so this is a stock that could benefit from a positive FSLR report. A move above $13.62 could signal a test of $14.21 and possibly a test of the 200-day moving average near $16.


Another stock worth watching is Yingli Green Energy (YGE). This stock has shown relative strength compared to its peers, and has been in a consolidation pattern for a few months. It’s currently looking a little weak, and is resting on its 50-day moving average, but if it can get back over $13.85 it could be ready for a test of the June high near $16.35.


Bottom Line
The solar stocks could really go in either direction at this point, but they are worth watching with FSLR reporting this week. They often set the trend for this group, and there could be some great trading opportunities setting up. The levels noted in the charts above are starting points for watching the action objectively. Regardless of the headline news or numbers, the important thing to watch is what the stock price does moving forward. If any of these stocks starts to climb above key levels, there is a good chance they can experience a sharp rally. If they start to lose these levels, the opposite would hold true. With volatile groups like these, it’s worth watching regardless of which direction the move goes.

March 17, 2009

Energy Conversion Devices Dims

Filed under: CSIQ, DD, ENER, FSLR, SPWR, TAN — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 4:40 pm

Carl Gutierrez, 03.17.09, 04:40 PM EDT

Solar company yanks its outlook amid a flailing, uncertain economy.

Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) fell by more than a fifth after it yanked its outlook and said it would cut back on its expansion plans because of the weak economy.

The announcement comes a little more than a month after investors shrugged off a tepid third-quarter and fiscal-year outlook, and instead took the company’s sales guidance as a positive even though it was lowered from previous expectations. (See “Energy Conversion Cuts Its Way To Profit.”)

But now, the projections no long apply because of project financing difficulties caused by the recession–a major issue for the fledging solar industry. Energy Conversion said on Monday that it plans to consolidate some production facilities and eliminate about 70 jobs. Chief Executive Mark Morelli thinks the third quarter should yield a profit.

Energy Conversion solar panels use thin-film technology, but its product is unique in interesting ways. Most solar panels are hard, flat planes, but Energy Conversion’s product can be rolled onto roofs in strips, are lightweight and can become part of the physical roof.

Elsewhere in solarland, Canadian Solar (CSIQ) reported a loss well off expectations on Tuesday. It cited difficult credit conditions, price declines and other factors. Its outlook was in line with expectations, but assumes improved conditions in the second half of the year.


December 17, 2008

Clouds over the Solar Power Industry

Filed under: LDK, SOLF, STP, TAN — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 12:13 pm

As oil prices have plunged, solar has become less cost-competitive. And the credit squeeze has made it harder to finance solar projects

By Mark Scott and Chi-Chu Tschang
December 17, 2008, 12:13PM EST

If the recent five-year boom in solar energy marked the birth of a global industry, the next half-decade should be its coming of age. But like most adolescents, solar is experiencing growing pains. The economic crisis has weakened demand for everything from polysilicon to rooftop panels, just as manufacturers have spent billions expanding production. The overcapacity has caused prices to plummet and left the industry financially exposed. A number of companies—especially startups—may not survive a shakeout that could last 18 months or longer.

The causes of the downturn are complex and interrelated. As the price of oil plunged from its peak last summer, solar and other forms of renewable energy became relatively less cost-competitive—dampening demand from industrial, commercial, and residential customers. At the same time, the credit squeeze has made it harder for customers, whether power companies or energy-conscious homeowners, to finance solar projects. Some also are holding back in anticipation that solar equipment prices will fall even further.

Consider the story of Peng Xiaofeng, chairman of China’s LDK Solar (LDK), a maker of solar wafers. During a recent trip to Europe, he toured major solar projects that have been, in some cases, on the drawing boards for two to three years. “They’re all delayed,” Peng says.”I don’t think they’ll be ready [even] in 2010 or 2011.”

Trimmed Subsidies

The industry impact has been swift. After increasing at roughly 50% annually every year since 2004, the overall market for new solar installations could slow to just 15% growth in 2009, according to analyst estimates. Retail prices for photovoltaic (PV) panels may fall by as much as one-third in 2009 because of a continued glut. Adding to the gloom: Spain and Germany, the world’s top two markets for PV panels, have recently trimmed the subsidies they offered to jump-start local industries. “We’re moving from a seller’s to a buyer’s market,” says Adel El Gammal, secretary general of the European Photovoltaic Industry Assn. (EPIA).


November 20, 2008

Solar ETFs Still Slipping On Falling Oil

Filed under: ASTI, CSIQ, ESLR, FSLR, JASO, KWT, LDK, SOL, SPWR, STP, TAN, TSL — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 6:24 pm

Thursday November 20, 6:24 pm ET
Trang Ho
Investor’s Business Daily

Uncertainty in demand from Italy, slowing U.S. new-home starts, a weakening euro, declining oil prices, a sharp drop in solar panel prices and investor flight to safety have cast a dark cloud over the once white-hot solar energy ETFs.

Market Vectors Solar Energy (KWT)and Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy (TAN) have tumbled 73% and 74% from their May highs. They are textbook examples of how the higher stocks fly, the harder they fall.

By comparison, the S&P 500 has fallen 45%, and IBD’s oil & gas integrated industry group has sunk 56%.

Both ETFs on Tuesday undercut their previous lows from October’s sell-off and gapped lower Wednesday, when benchmark crude oil fell to $49.76 a barrel. That is the lowest price for oil since May 2005.

Dim forward guidance from ETF portfolio components JA Solar (JASO) and SunPower (SPWRA) last week alerted the market to more possible disappointments from companies reporting this week: ReneSola (SOL), LDK Solar (LDK), Trina Solar (TSL), Suntech Power Holdings (STP) and Canadian Solar (CSIQ).

But despite being 71% off its high, prospects remain bright for the largest company in the sector: First Solar (FSLR). It raised its fiscal 2008 revenue outlook in late October.

JPMorgan Securities initiated coverage of First Solar on Tuesday with an overweight rating. The company has significant manufacturing scale and a strong balance sheet, and will better weather the turbulence facing the solar energy industry, analyst Christopher Blansett wrote in a client note.


November 4, 2008

Solar stocks for a rainy day

Filed under: FSLR, SPWR, STP, TAN — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 8:42 am

The industry has taken a beating in the market lately, but a few standouts may shine in the long run.

By Michael V. Copeland, senior writer
Last Updated: November 4, 2008: 8:42 AM ET

(Fortune Magazine) — No one loves Arnold Schwarzenegger more than the solar industry. Kicking off the nation’s largest gathering devoted to all things sunny, the California governor won thunderous applause and two standing ovations from the crowd of 20,000 at the San Diego Convention Center. “What’s green for the environment can also be green for the economy,” he said. “Solar is the future; it’s now; it can’t be stopped.”

For those four days in October, the Solar Power International 2008 convention drew attendees from 70 countries and generated lines stretching out the door for parking, food, and just about everything else. It seemed as if the power of the sun could conquer all. You wouldn’t have guessed that just a week before, the financial meltdown had felled sector after sector, including the once-shining solar industry.

let-the-sun-shine-inIt’s not that this swelling crowd thinks the macroeconomic troubles the world faces won’t affect the solar industry; they know they will. All the leading solar companies have already seen the value of their stocks plummet far more than the 36% the Nasdaq has dropped from the beginning of the year to Oct. 21. The value of the Claymore/MAC global solar energy index (TAN), an ETF comprising global solar stocks, has dropped 56% since it started trading in mid-April.

Given the uncertainty of the economy, some analysts fear that the solar industry’s customers could have trouble financing utility-scale solar projects that use lots of modules. Most residential solar installations, which can cost $20,000 to $30,000, require homeowners to borrow, and that money has all but disappeared. Subsidies in Spain, a huge market in recent years, are decreasing, and it is an open question whether countries that have new subsidies coming online, like Italy, Greece, and France, will fill the void.

In contrast to the 1980s – when solar companies got swept away by cheap oil, withdrawn government subsidies, or steep economic downturns – the sense this time is that the industry is here to stay. And not just stay and survive, but stay and flourish. Concern over climate change, combined with falling prices for solar technology, has made this source of carbon-free electricity more attractive than ever. The worldwide market for solar energy roughly doubled last year, to $33 billion, and analysts expect revenues to grow 33% a year for the foreseeable future. What began as a technology championed by tree huggers and pot growers is now a global market that Lux Research, based in New York City, says will reach about $100 billion in sales within the next five years. Germany, Japan, and Spain rank as the top markets for solar power, but other Western European nations are coming on fast, as are China and the U.S. As part of the bailout package, Congress extended the 30% investment tax credits for clean energy, which should give a boost to the American market.

‘A real industry’

“Solar has become a real industry,” says Marc Porat, a Silicon Valley veteran and chairman of green-building-materials company Serious Materials. Porat was at the conference in San Diego scouting for solar-electricity generating systems for another green project of his. Looking around the hall packed with startups selling everything from tools for manufacturing solar cells to rooftop hardware for mounting equipment to software for analyzing power needs, Porat emphasizes his point. “You can see that all the gaps in the market have been filled by multiple companies,” he says. “It’s the same with any good entrepreneurial opportunity.”


September 24, 2008

Passage Of New Tax Incentives Brightens Outlook For U.S. Solar

Filed under: AKNS, ENER, FSLR, SPWR, TAN — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 7:55 pm

Wednesday September 24, 7:55 pm ET
Brian Womack

Solar stocks soared Wednesday after the U.S. Senate approved a more than $17 billion energy package that could spark the nation’s sun-powered industry.

“Christmas came early for the U.S. solar industry,” said Travis Bradford, an analyst at the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development.

The Senate, after failing several times in the past year, approved a better-than-expected legislative package late Tuesday that extends solar’s investment tax credit for eight years, boosts the amount of the credit for some — and even aids the utility industry. Current incentives expire at year’s end.

The House must now take up the legislation. Some say a vote is possible as early as Thursday. Passage of the bill in its current form is far from certain, though the White House has indicated its support.

Still, the Senate has been a key obstacle in the process, so investors applauded its vote.

The package would give the solar industry a big shot in the arm. The U.S. could emerge as another huge solar market besides Europe and Japan, analysts say. The U.S. market is ripe for growth, and the tax incentives help make solar competitive with traditional energy.

“This is a huge deal for the solar industry, but also for the economy,” said Monique Hanis, a spokeswoman for the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group. “This helps put solar within reach of all Americans.”


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.


June 24, 2008

Solar Energy ETFs: Don’t Get Burned

Filed under: AKNS, AMAT, ESLR, FSLR, KWT, SPWR, TAN, WFR — Tags: , , — Jason @ 8:08 am

Andrew Koyaanisqatsi installs solar panels for a domestic hot water system Nov. 14, 2005 in Salem, Oregon Melanie Conner/Getty Images

These volatile indexes show that sometimes there’s little safety in numbers. Analysts suggest picking individual stocks instead

by Aaron Pressman

With sky-high oil prices hitting new records seemingly every week, interest in solar energy burns bright. But investors have found shares of companies that provide solar-power gear to be among the most volatile in the entire stock market.

Shares of leading players like First Solar (FSLR) and SolarWorld (SRWRF.PK) routinely trade up or down by more than 10% in a day. On June 19, shares of Evergreen Solar (ESLR) surged 20% on news that the solar wafer maker had signed two long-term contract deals. But the next day, they dropped 8% when there was no significant news to drive the stock.

All that volatility had many investors welcoming the April introduction of two exchange-traded funds focusing on solar energy indexes, the Claymore MAC Global Solar Energy Index ETF (TAN) and Van Eck’s Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF (KWT). The Claymore fund is already up to $163 million in assets, while the Market Vectors offering is yet to hit $25 million.

No Safe Haven

Unfortunately for investors, the ETFs have turned out to be almost as volatile as the individual stocks. Both were down more than double the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index’s 1.7% drop on June 20. “Just buying the whole [solar] market means you just follow its ups and downs,” says Morningstar (MORN) analyst Rick Hanna, who follows solar energy stocks. “If you do your homework, you should be able to do better than that.”


May 14, 2008

Solar Energy Outshines Rest Of ETF Universe

Filed under: FSLR, JASO, KWT, SOL, STP, TAN, YGE — Tags: , , , , , — Jason @ 6:22 pm

Wednesday May 14, 6:22 pm ET
Trang Ho

An upside earnings surprise from ReneSola (SOL) fueled a sharp rally in solar energy stocks that started Tuesday.Market Vectors Solar Energy (KWT) and Claymore/MAC Global Solar Energy Index (TAN) both gapped up 6%, giving them the best gains among U.S. ETFs.

But neither holds ReneSola, the China-based solar wafer maker.

The 27-stock Market Vectors ETF tracks the Ardour Solar Energy Index, created by Ardour Capital Investments. The 25-stock Claymore ETF tracks the MAC Global Energy Index, created by Melvin & Co., a research firm specializing in clean energy. Both ETFs launched in April with an expense ratio of 0.65%. They have overlapping holdings and use a modified cap-weighting system. So the primary difference is how much of each stock they own.

Ardour Vs. MAC Index

Top holdings in Market Vectors, Arizona-based First Solar (FSLR), Norway-based Renewable Energy, and SolarWorld and Q Cells, both from Germany, are each weighted at 10% of assets. Chinese solar firms, JA Solar (JASO), Suntech Power (STP), Yingli Green Energy (YGE), each have 5%.

In the MAC index, the largest holding, First Solar, takes up 9% of assets, followed by Renewable Energy 7.6%, Q-Cells 6.6%, Suntech 6% and SolarWorld 5.4%. JA Solar and Yingli are both weighted about 5%.

The top countries in both funds are China, Germany and the U.S., followed by Norway.

First Solar made a new high Wednesday after breaking out of a four-month cup base. It appears to have formed a high handle with a new buy point 20 308.34.

Citi Investment Research initiated coverage last week saying First Solar is one of the few companies that will weather a sharp decline in prices. Earnings vaulted 275% to a whopping 717% the past four quarters. Sales exploded 177% to 290% over those periods. It has beat analysts’ views the past six quarters.


April 16, 2008

The First Solar Stock ETF has arrived

Filed under: CSIQ, CSUN, EMKR, ENER, ESLR, FSLR, JASO, LDK, SOLF, SPWR, STP, TAN, TSL, WFR, YGE — Tags: — Jason @ 11:54 am

Top Fund Holdings as of 4/15/08

Name Weighting
Q-CELLS AG 6.49 %
ROTH & RAU AG 1.96 %

March 31, 2008

New Solar ETFs: Here Come the Suns

Filed under: AMAT, ESLR, FSLR, KWT, LDK, SPWR, STP, TAN, WFR — Tags: , , , — Jason @ 2:25 am

Monday March 31, 2:25 am ET
Seeking Alpha

Hard Assets Investor submits: With the tremendous interest in all things “green” and “clean,” it was just a matter of time before ETF and index companies would start to carve out thinner slices of the clean tech universe. In fact, there are two ETFs in registration that target a fast-growing segment of the clean tech market: solar energy.

This month, Claymore and Van Eck registered solar energy ETFs. Claymore’s Global Solar Energy ETF will track an index developed by Chicago-based Melvin & Company. The index will be composed of approximately 25 stocks selected “based on the relative importance of solar power within the company’s business model.” The stocks in the index are involved in some aspect of the solar power business, from gathering raw materials to manufacturing equipment to selling solar energy. Components will be weighted based in part on the importance of solar energy to their business model, so that pure-play companies get more weight than conglomerates that dabble in solar energy.

Van Eck’s Market Vectors-Solar Energy ETF will track the Ardour Solar Energy Index. Expected to launch in April 2008, the ETF will contain approximately 25 stocks, selected depending on the companies’ revenues, liquidity and market cap. The list of companies isn’t available, but the roughly 25 stocks will be taken from Ardour’s Global Composite Index, an alternative energy index comprised of 118 stocks. Both ETFs will likely have familiar names, such as major solar energy companies like First Solar (FSLR), Sun Power (SPWR), Evergreen Solar (ESLR) and LDK Solar (LDK).

Van Eck and Claymore are counting on solar to generate strong investor interest in the coming years, and for good reason. There seems little doubt that the solar-power industry has a “sunny” future. In January’s Scientific American, “A Solar Grand Plan” proposes a way for the U.S. to generate 69% of its electricity and 35% of its total energy from solar power by 2050. Noted technologist and inventor Ray Kurzweil is even more bullish, forecasting that solar will meet 100% of our energy needs in 20 years. Solar currently generates far less than 1% of our energy needs.

Investor interest in solar is strong. Venture capital investment in the industry grew from $150 million in 2005 to more than $1 billion in 2007, according to Greentech Media Research. More money may also come from the government. A bill currently before the Senate could shift about $18 billion of subsidies for oil companies into wind and solar energy. The bill, approved by the House of Representatives, would extend the 30 percent investment tax credit for solar projects.

That’s the bullish case. The near-term outlook is a bit cloudier for solar companies. Industry fundamentals are increasingly difficult. At issue is the worldwide shortage of polysilicon, a vital ingredient in photovoltaic cells, which has hounded the industry by pushing spot prices of the material sky high. A turning point will come when capacity exceeds demand, as polysilicon makers have been ramping up production. In a recent report, Citigroup says that could happen as early as the second half of 2009: Citigroup analysts expect the industry to be 33 percent oversupplied in 2010. Another dark cloud for solar is slowing demand in Spain and Germany, both considered key markets because of government incentives that have sped solar development.


Create a free website or blog at