TEMPE, Ariz. ( TheStreet) -- First Solar ( FSLR) has had a tough time finding fans on the Street. In fact, a recent Bloomberg piece called attention to the number of buy ratings on First Solar stock as an indication of negative sentiment on the solar sector more generally.

First Solar's buy rating ratio took a turn for the better on Thursday morning. Morgan Stanley initiated coverage of First Solar at a buy, and with a price target of $150.

Kaufman Brothers reinstated coverage of First Solar at a buy, and with a price target of $140.

First Solar shares responded with a gain of close to 4% in early trading on Thursday morning. First Solar shares were up just under $4 and went above the $113 share mark after having fallen as low as $109 to start the week.

Other U.S. solar stocks remain under pressure, such as SunPower ( SPWRA). SunPower was also rallying on Thursday morning, up 2% in early trading after it announced a $200 million convertible deal to replenish its cash reserve after its recent acquisition of SunRay, a deal financed with a majority portion of cash.

Smaller U.S. solar firms including Ascent Solar ( ASTI), Energy Conversion Devices ( ENER) and Evergreen Solar ( ESLR) are all taking different approaches to survival in these tough times for solar. Ascent Solar, for example, is betting on off-grid growth in India, a niche no other public solar stock is exploiting at this point.

The new Street bullish calls on First Solar don't require any new niche strategy for the U.S. solar bellwether -- and what's more, the analysts believe the arguments pressuring First Solar shares are flawed.

Kaufman Brothers analyst Jeffrey Bencik said First Solar was not losing its pricing edge to China's crystalline silicon players. "Many skeptics in the last year have indicated that the drop in polysilicon prices would allow traditional poly modules to close the gap with FSLR in terms of cost/watt.... Quite simply, it has not happened and, in our opinion, is not likely to happen," the Kaufman Brothers analyst wrote.

Writing about average sales price pressure in solar, Morgan Stanley believes that the negative sentiment on First Solar is overdone. "We believe the market is too pessimistic on First Solar's average sales price development.... We believe First Solar will be able to realize higher module ASPs than the market expects."

The Morgan Stanley analyst also believes that the growth of the First Solar systems business, which has led to concerns about First Solar gross margin deterioration, is an overdone argument. "The market could also be underestimating module margins in its systems business, where we believe margins are higher than standalone module sales and will face less pricing pressure going forward."

The analyst debate over First Solar's outlook is sure to continue. Earlier this week, one of the main First Solar bears, Wedbush Securities, initiated its first coverage of Chinese solar companies, led by a buy on Trina Solar ( TSL). It's Trina and its Chinese solar peers that are inherent in making the bear arguments about First Solar.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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