Solar Stocks Face Grayer Skies
Jim Cramer recently said he's not a believer in solar plays because they require government subsidies, and governments around the world are out of "moola."
Back on Sept. 3 I wrote that the solar industry was headed for crisis in 2010 and that as many as half of the more than 200 solar manufacturers, who at the time were mired in red ink with selling prices above $2.00 per watt, might not survive. Prices have dropped since then, erasing already razor-thin margins.
Late last year, a few announcements supported my prediction:
- General Electric (GE) said it planed to close its only U.S. solar panel factory because production costs had exceeded sale prices. The factory can produce 34 megawatts
- Evergreen Solar (ESLR) said it would move panel production from its factory in Devens, Mass., to China in 2010 in order to cut costs.
- BP (BP) solar unit announced it would close its solar panel factory in Maryland and outsource that work to a contract manufacturer. In October, BP said it had hired Jabil Circuit (JBL) to assemble panels at a Jabil factory in Poland.
Then this month, China-based Jinko Solar withdrew its IPO plans due to "poor market conditions." Just weeks before, another China-based polysilicon manufacturer, Daqo New Energy, pulled its $80 million IPO.Meanwhile, a lot of companies are losing money:
- Evergreen Solar reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $98.1 million after an $82.4 million loss in the third quarter.
- Renewable Energy reported a fourth-quarter net loss of 1.05 billion Norwegian kroner ($177.5 million), compared with a net profit of 1.11 billion kroner a year earlier.
- China's JA Solar (JASO) reported a fourth-quarter net loss per diluted American depositary share of 0.80 yuan (or 12 cents), compared with a net loss per diluted ADS of 2.31 yuan (or 34 cents) a year earlier.
- Akeena Solar (AKNS) reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $3.7 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $9.2 million, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier.
- Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) reported a fourth-quarter loss of $39 million, or 92 cents a share, compared with earnings of $13 million, or 31 cents a share, a year before.
- MEMC Electronic Materials (WFR) (NYSE:WFR) swung to the red in the fourth quarter on a plunge in gross margin and weaker sales.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
24/7 market commentary from Jim Cramer and 20+ veteran Wall Street gurus. Get access to the latest trading ideas on stocks, options, and ETFs as well as a real-time forum to see the pros exchanging their investment ideas.
- Jim Cramer + 20 Wall Street pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Real-time trading forum
- Actionable trade ideas
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV