Big Solar Players Take a Hit

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted August 17, 2011

In the now hugely competitive solar panel industry, only the major and strategic players will manage to stay afloat.

We saw this ring true when Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ: ESLR) declared bankruptcy and Solon SE (ETR: SOO1) shut down its Arizona plant.

And even the major players are feeling the strain on the industry.

On Wednesday, Canadian Solar Inc (NASDAQ: CSIQ) reported a boost in second quarter profits that still fell short of analyst estimates.

So far this year, shares have been down 40%, says Reuters.

Though net income more than doubled a year ago, up to $7.1 million or 16 cents a share from last year’s $3.2 million or 7 cents a share, analysts had expected 28 cents a share.

Selling expenses, the company reported, had increased about a third from the first quarter of 2011.

Shipments also fell below the company’s target of 295MW, when a delay of a 10.1MW shipment put the number at 287MW.

Net revenue increased above the forecast of $449.8 million, however. For the second quarter, net revenue increased 47% to $481.8 million.

And for the third quarter, Reuters reports, shipments are expected to jump between a range of 350MW and 360MW.

Canadian Solar is headquartered in Toronto, though most of the company’s operations take place in China.

This poses an advantage, as Chinese companies have been creating competition by pushing panel prices down.

Canadian Solar traded down 6.4% at $7.36 in afternoon trading on Wednesday.

First Solar Inc (NASDAQ: FSLR), the world’s largest thin-film solar module manufacturer, also saw losses on Wednesday upon two strokes of news.

After market closed on Tuesday, First Solar announced that Jens Meyerhoff, president of utility systems, will leave the company on September 30, to be replaced by vice president of utility systems business sales James Brown.

Meyerhoff had been with the company since 2006, when he started as CFO.

It follows a number of administrative staffing shifts since Rob Gillette became CEO in 2009, reported Forbes:

“Of the top six executives listed in the company’s 2008 10K filing, only one remains.”

Timothy Arcuri of Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) told Forbes that he doesn’t believe the change in staffing will affect any of the three project receiving loans from the Department of Energy, namely the AV Solar Ranch, Desert Sunlight, and Topaz.

But a second blow to shares was dealt by Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), when Mark Wienkes removed the company from the “conviction buy list”.

Goldman Sachs also reduced First Solar’s price target from $175 to $150.

Though Wienkes kept First Solar’s “buy” rating, Barrons reported that he had “a preference for other areas in our commodities and industrials business unit.”

Shares of First Solar were down 5.2% to $99 in afternoon trading.

That’s all for now,


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