NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- This week has shown evidence of two typical themes in short-term solar trading: a schizophrenic split between negative sentiment from the mainstream press driving down solar stocks, and press releases from solar companies giving solar stocks a bump.

On Monday, a Barron's article's negative outlook on solar stocks -- a report that repeated much of what already has been reported in the much of the press for months -- seemed to exact the "mainstream press" toll on solar stocks.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, however, the solar sector also provided evidence of the stand-by stock rally theme of "any news is good news."

Take SunPower ( SPWRA), for example. Late on Tuesday, SunPower announced that it would finally release its earnings, right after the market close on Thursday.

In SunPower's case, it is less about the fourth-quarter earnings and all about the accounting investigation launched last November and any larger earnings restatement. SunPower's late Tuesday announcement, of course, did not indicate the results of the accounting investigation.

Yet shares of SunPower were up close to 3% midday on Wednesday. It's a minor relief rally, though, not necessarily a sign that investors are reading the benign announcement from SunPower as a positive either.

One would hope that investors aren't thinking, "Well, they didn't drag out the results of the fourth quarter results and accounting investigation all the way to the verge of being de-listed, so that must be a positive."

"It's been four months since the accounting issues were first disclosed, and for SunPower shares it's a bit of a relief rally that the situation is finally coming to an end, but beyond that, you can't read too much into it," said Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov.

The upswing in SunPower shares could just be short investors covering their positions ahead of the earnings announcement on Thursday, too.

Leading returns among the solar companies on Wednesday is Akeena Solar ( AKNS), with a gain of close to 10% in the early afternoon. Of course, a gain of 10% in Akeena shares amounts to 10 cents and a rise to $1.14 share price.

Akeena did have a specific reason for its rise: the solar company announced that it will be staffing Lowe's home stores with solar installation staff to help spur the sales of its do-it-yourself solar kits that became available in select Lowe's California locations last year.

On that note, when Akeena first announced the Lowe's deal Dec. 10, its shares closed up 56% with more than 11 million shares traded on the day of the announcement.

Akeena shares closed at $1.55 on Dec. 10, or 27% higher than its midday share price after Wednesday's rally. Bullish Akeena trading on Wednesday was only over 700,000 shares, or close to seven times Akeena's average, versus the 11 million shares traded on the original Lowe's announcement.

Another point that solar investors may want to think about concerning Akeena is its spending levels. Akeena's SG&A expenses have tended to run as high as two-thirds of its revenues. Analysts had said at the time of the Lowe's deal that there was a big education effort required before the deal actually translated into higher sales.

Investors may want to consider whether Wednesday's news was a sign of the educational effort that would spur more sales through Lowe's, or just going to add to Akeena's SG&A expenses in the coming quarters.

Energy Conversion Devices ( ENER) was up close to 5% at midday Wednesday, on no news in particular. Energy Conversion surpasses its average daily trading volume of 2.4 million shares by midday, and had gained 38 cents to a share price of $8.34.

Still, the rise in Energy Conversion Devices' shares is far from noteworthy, and probably just evidence of the ongoing debate as to whether U.S. solar stocks like Energy Conversion are poised for a turnaround or for bankruptcy. Energy Conversion has closed at a higher price than its midday Wednesday price twice in the last seven trading days. In fact, on March 8, when Energy Conversion closed at $8.56, more than 7 million shares were traded, the solar stock's heaviest volume day since December.

Rounding out the solar rally stocks on Wednesday was Suntech Power ( STP), which was up 3.7% in the early afternoon.

Whereas SunPower was a relief rally, and the Akeena rally a "Lowe's News Redux" rally, Suntech was up as the result of "any news in solar -- other than Barron's articles -- is good news" trading dynamic.

Suntech announced on Wednesday morning a deal to supply solar panels for Taiwan's largest power plant. At a total size of 5 megawatts -- doubling Taiwan's current solar capacity -- the Suntech deal is certainly not moving the needle in terms of the Street's financial model. For the sake of comparison, Suntech said in its fourth-quarter earnings that it plans to install capacity of 1.4 gigawatts in 2010.

The Suntech news was not entirely insignificant. After all, any sign of solar companies diversifying away from Europe is a positive as those European tariff regimes continue to create boom-and-bust cycles for solar companies. Suntech also may be exhibiting some early sales advantage in Taiwan, a country that hopes to grow to a market of 10 GW in the next 20 years.

That said, considering the concerns about the second half of 2010 and average sales price deterioration in solar, not even to mention potential overcapacity across the sector, delivery of the 5 MW of solar by Suntech, scheduled to begin in June, is no game-changer.

Nonetheless, the 5 MW deal was enough for one of the larger gains in solar on Wednesday. Maybe that says more than anything about the current solar outlook.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.


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