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First Solar: The German Tariff Fallout

TEMPE, Ariz. ( TheStreet) - First Solar (FSLR - Get Report) was among the biggest losers in the solar sector on Wednesday morning, as an official proposal from Germany's environment minister to slash solar feed-in tariffs was finally reported.

In recent days, as rumors of a big cut to solar tariffs in Germany hit the market, it has been the Chinese solar firms that have suffered the brunt of share price declines.

Some of the biggest Chinese solar stocks, most notably Trina Solar (TSL - Get Report), were still showing larger losses than First Solar on Wednesday morning. First Solar, though, down more than 4%, was much closer to the Chinese solar losses than it had been in the previous few days of the solar selloff. First Solar shares had reached their average daily trading volume by midday Wednesday.

The German environment minister's proposal to slash solar tariffs on farmland projects at a 25% rate, a move not previously reported among the rumors, could be one of the reasons for the negative reaction on First Solar's business in Germany. Of course, a big caveat is that the news today out of Germany is the environment minister's proposal, and it is still a long way to parliamentary approval.

Still, if the proposal turns out to reflect the final parliamentary move, it can't be understated that First Solar had approximately 60% of its sales in Germany last year, so its sheer exposure to Germany is significant. This level of exposure had not sent First Solar down to a greater extent last week when Germany's expected cuts were first rumored.
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