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TheStreet Open House

Real Goods Solar Gets Chilly Reception

Real Goods Solar (RSOL) is now a public company, and the markets have spoken: The freshman Nasdaq stock is looking more like So-So Solar.

Unlike most solar stocks, which make photovoltaic cells or the panels that include them, Real Goods Solar focuses on the consumer -- selling, installing and maintaining solar panels on the roofs of homes and small businesses.

Solar panel stocks like First Solar (FSLR) and SunPower (SPWR) have been volatile as investors grapple with their high valuations at a time when supply and demand -- and therefore pricing -- seem uncertain.

Still, when the price of oil seems to charge toward yet another new record nearly every day, you'd expect a friendly welcome for a stock that offers a different take on the technology.

Investors didn't think so. Last month, Real Goods Solar said it would go public between $10 a share and $12 a share. Last Thursday, it priced at the bottom of that range. And since then, it's fallen steadily, dropping as low as $7.25 Monday afternoon, or 28% below its offering price.

The stock was trading at $7.90, down 3 cents, or 0.38%, in recent trading on Tuesday.

There are things to like about Real Goods Solar. It sells a product that appeals to high-income consumers in California (the company also has plans to expand along the West Coast and in New England). The company says it's made 2,400 residential and commercial installations in its 30 years of business, which it believes makes it the biggest player in its niche.

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