(Solar sector article updated with analysis of U.S. trade complaint, poll question on the outlook for solar stocks.)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Solar stocks know only one direction, and it's up. Whether it's a solar cell, wafer or solar module maker, the solar rally is living to see at least one more day with the gains on Thursday across many sector stocks. Solar cell leader JA Solar ( JASO) is up 37% in the past month. Chinese solar wafer leader LDK Solar ( LDK) is up 60% in the past month. LDK Chinese wafer making mate ReneSola ( SOL - Get Report) is up 45% in the past month. The gains by the major module makers are paltry in comparison. A mere 18% gain for Yingli Green Energy ( YGE), and a mere 20% gain for SunPower ( SPWRA). Suntech Power ( STP) has also rallied over the past month. The biggest module maker of all, First Solar ( FSLR - Get Report) stoked the flames of optimism twice in the past two weeks, first announcing 380 megawatts of orders for Europe in 2011, above and beyond its existing guidance, and on Thursday, announcing that it's expanding its manufacturing capacity by another 500 MW, planning two new plants in the U.S. and Vietnam.
ESLR) and Ascent Solar ( ASTI) are up 88% and 70% respectively in the last month. This week, in particular, the micro-cap solar stocks rallied as a group to a level not seen in some time.
TSL) as a core long-term holding, there's at least one if not two, or maybe a dozen traders who could care less about whether solar stocks are up or down, as long as they are up or down by a lot, and trading momentum is generated. "I think going into earnings valuations are pretty full and reflecting earnings revisions, and people are turning eyes away from potential negative news," Oppenheimer's Hseuh concluded. This doesn't mean Hseuh doesn't see upside in specific solar stocks. In fact, he remains bullish on shares of Solarfun even though Solarfun has been singled out by Auriga's Bachman as a solar module maker that could feel margin pressure from input costs. Indeed, the continuing rally in the solar sector ahead of the earnings season, and ahead of another round of annual tariff cuts in Europe, raises the question, Is it time to take the money and run, or do solar sector fundamentals mean it's onwards and upwards for years to come with stock prices? Take the poll below to see what TheStreet thinks.
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