SolarCity's model contains forward risks that others in the space don't have. Growth may be limited because most other sunny states won't provide the opportunistic regulatory environment and corporate welfare afforded in California. Even if SolarCity becomes operationally profitable, the shares have appreciated to nose-bleed levels. Remember, the greater fool theory of investing only works if you're not the last fool.
SunPower is profitable, and insiders own the majority of shares. Among its peers, SunPower does shine bright. The problem for SunPower is the same as SolarCity: limited growth potential outside of California until unsubsidized cost parity with other electric generation is achieved. I place SunPower as a distant number two in my ranking of solar stocks I would buy.
The next is First Solar. Of all the solar companies, this is the one to own if you must own solar. First Solar is profitable and expected to grow. First Solar is reasonably priced near $60, down from over $300 in 2008, and a price above $100 by this time next year isn't necessarily unreasonable.
While I believe the space is full of peril, and there are many other better risk vs. reward scenarios to select from, a valid argument can be made for First Solar.
At the time of publication, Weinstein had no positions in securities mentioned.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.