(Trina Solar story updated for Mizuho analyst comments)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Trina Solar (TSL - Get Report) sank on Tuesday after the company announced the resignation of the head of its audit committee, Peter Mak, who until recently was chief financial officer of A-Power Energy (APWR), a company facing serious accounting issues that have halted trading in its stock.
"I can't think of a worse headline for today's environment than 'China-based head of audit committee resigns,'" said Soleil Securities/PrincetonTech analyst Paul Leming. In this case, the news also thrust Trina's link to the scandal engulfing A-Power into the spotlight, and raised questions about the company's own books, given Mak's central connection to Trina's own auditing process.
Two weeks ago, A-Power's outside auditors resigned, setting off the latest in a string of Chinese stock scandals. Mak resigned from A-Power shortly thereafter and the company has delayed its annual report. A-Power shares have been halted since June 27.There is no indication that Trina Solar has accounting issues but its shares fell sharply on the news of Mak's resignation. Trina shares recovered somewhat on Tuesday afternoon, after analysts including Raymond James and Jefferies came to the company's defense. Trina finished trading with a decline of 8.5%, at $18.09, on more than four times the issue's trailing three-month daily average. Earlier in the session, Trina shares scraped a fresh 52-week low of $16.90. The Chinese stock sector has been rife with accounting scandals, predominantly among companies that went public through reverse mergers, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Chinese regulators have launched an investigation of the issue. Chinese solar stocks have largely been insulated from the scandals however. The Trina link to A-Power is the first taint on big Chinese solar stocks to stem from the halted or de-listed parade of Chinese stocks. Paul Leming, analyst at Soleil Securities/Princeton Tech, said while the Chinese solar companies have been largely insulated from the stock scandals, they have faced broad criticism about corporate governance. Several Chinese solar companies, including Suntech Power (STP), Yingli Green Energy (YGE) and LDK Solar (LDK) have completed financial transactions involving operations owned separately by the company chairman, a type of internal dealing that was evident recently when JA Solar (JASO) acquired a wafer company 70% owned by its chairman . Aaron Chew, solar analyst at Maxim Group, said the A-Power connection called into question both Trina's management and its books, even if he has never had specific reason to doubt Trina. He believes Trina is one of the better-run companies in the Chinese solar sector but is reluctant to say the stock is a buy here because of the overhang from this news. "If it turns out to be nothing