Friday, July 31, 2009

Solar company results reflect weak global market

From Reuters:
First Solar Inc reported a quarterly profit on Thursday that handily topped Wall Street estimates, but its shares fell in extended trading after the company said it would start offering rebates to defend its position in Germany.

The solar panel maker's shares soared more than 10 percent after it announced its results but reversed course and fell 3.2 percent after the rebate program was outlined during a conference call with analysts.

"They say they're doing it through a rebate program, but it doesn't matter what you call it, they still have to cut prices," said Kaufman Bros analyst Theodore O'Neill.

First Solar, based in Tempe, Arizona, has weathered the global recession better than many of its peers because its cadmium telluride panels are cheaper to produce than the silicon-based panels that dominate the market.

That was underscored on Thursday as three smaller U.S. solar companies, Evergreen Solar Inc, Hoku Scientific Inc and Akeena Solar Inc, said they lost money in the second quarter.

A dearth of financing for renewable energy projects has contributed to a global glut of solar panels that has sent prices falling, hurting panel makers' margins.

At the same time, prices of silicon-based panels have come closer to those of First Solar's low-cost panels, chipping away at its competitive edge....MORE