NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Shares of silicon alloy maker Globe Specialty Metals Inc. dropped more than 10 percent Thursday with a downgrade from Jefferies & Co., which said it expects continued declines in silicon prices to push the company's earnings below expectations this year. THE SPARK: Jefferies analysts downgraded Globe's stock to "Hold" from "Buy." THE BIG PICTURE: Recovery of prices for silicon metals and alloys depends mainly on economic conditions in Europe and the condition of the solar market, according to Jefferies analysts Luke Folta and Martin Englert. They expect silicon prices to keep falling until the second half of the year. New York-based Globe is one of the world's biggest producers of silicon metal and silicon-based specialty alloys. They are used in a range of industrial and consumer products, including chemicals, aluminum, steel, iron, autos, solar cells and concrete. THE ANALYSIS: Jefferies also lowered its 12-month target price for Globe from $22.50 to $16, still about 33 percent above its current price of around $12. In a note, the analysts reduced their estimate for 2012 earnings to 95 cents per share from $1.31 per share. They cut their estimate for the fourth quarter by 2 cents, to 26 cents a share, citing a fire at Globe's plant in Bridgeport, Ala., which is expected to reduce shipments and raise costs for the company. SHARE ACTION: Globe shares plummeted $1.35, or 9.8 percent, on Thursday to $12.50 by midday, having dipped as low as $12.25. The shares have traded between $12.25 and $25.67 over the past 52 weeks.