TAKING THE PULSE: Observers have become cautious about solar companies, saying rising commodity costs and reduced access to capital, as well as declining fuel costs and the poor economy, could put pressure on the industry. Many solar companies have been cutting production and lowering their outlooks recently to reflect lower demand during the worldwide recession.
Still, the sector hopes to see a boost as the Obama administration and other governments are expected to increase their spending or offer subsidies for solar energy in the coming years. China, for example, last month announced it would provide subsidies for solar-power installation, though that move is expected to be more beneficial to the Chinese-based companies in the sector.COMPANIES TO WATCH:
SunPower Corp. (SPWRA) - reports April 23
Wall Street Expectations: Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters project per-share earnings of 25 cents on revenue of $275 million. A year earlier, the company reported net income of 15 cents on revenue of $274 million.
Key Issues: The solar-panel maker, which already lowered its 2009 earnings forecast twice, expects stimulus spending to help boost results in the second half of the year and projects increased U.S. solar-power spending within a few years. The Chinese government's decision to subsidize and increase its solar market can also help SunPower as it would keep lower-priced Chinese panels from being exported.First Solar Inc. (FSLR) - reporting date to be announced
Wall Street Expectations: Analysts project per-share earnings of $1.51 on revenue of $405 million, up from 57 cents and $197 million, respectively.Key Issues: The solar-power module maker in February said it expected first-quarter revenue to be flat to slightly down sequentially....MORE