Wednesday, September 21, 2011

First Solar Closes at Lowest Level in Four Years, Former Chairman Parties (FSLR)

With yesterday's close at $79.21 First Solar returned to a price it had not seen since the quant-crash of 2007 when it traded as low as $74.77 on August 16th.
Even during that period, which former backer and Goldman CFO David Viniar described as “We were seeing things that were 25-standard deviation moves, several days in a row”  the stock had managed to close above $80.

King of the Insider Sellers, Michael Ahern, former CEO of FSLR, was able to bail on shares worth $350 Million just between February 2010 and August of this year.
This brought his total take to $740,609,359.

Mr. Ahern never bought a share of FSLR.

That may be some sort of record.

Total insider trading in FSLR since the IPO:
Purchases $1,453,710
Sales        $2,579,550,190

That may also be a record.

Mr. Ahern remains Chairman and chief lobbyist for FSLR

In July Venture Capital Dispatch reported:
Michael Ahearn Looks Beyond Solar
Michael Ahearn, who was chief executive at First Solar Inc. as the company bloomed from an early-stage technology developer, through an IPO and into a multi-billion-dollar solar panel manufacturer, has launched his own venture to invest in early-stage clean-technology companies.
Armed with $300 million from several wealthy families, Ahearn, has a different take on investing than many VCs. He spoke with us about his fund, True North Venture Partners. Here’s an edited version of the interview:

Q: Your website says that you won’t be looking for how to exit a company or how to IPO when you invest, but don’t you want to make money?

A: Yes, of course, we’re hoping to make money. There’s no reason to have to cash out to realize the value. We are trying to find disruptive, step-change type of technologies. They are pretty rare. If you can find one, you have to run through a gauntlet of challenges. And if you have something that’s really working, why sell it? When you get to that point, just drive hard and grow, because you worked through all the early-stage risk and this is your time to reap the benefits. We’d rather be along for that, rather than sell. But if the team says to sell, we’d defer to the team.

Q: You have served as CEO of First Solar for about ten years, will you invest in solar companies now?
A: We’re not looking at anything in the photovoltaic industry. I don’t think there is a business case to invest in PV at this time. It would have to be something that’s better than First Solar. I don’t see anything that is. Even if I did, I’m chairman of the board at First Solar, even if I did see something I don’t think it’d be appropriate [to invest].

Q: Any other business that you won’t invest in? That shouldn’t knock on your door?
A: Main ones would be photovoltaic manufacturers and project businesses that are trying to raise money to fund renewable generation. That’s not an area we’re trying to get into....MORE
Roger that, wouldn't touch it with your money, over.
As I said a couple weeks ago:
One of my mentors had a rule: He would never buy a stock/company that was headed by an attorney or that had more than one VC on the board. Then there's Solyndra....
Mr. Ahern's J.D. is from Arizona State University.

Going forward holders of FSLR may want to read a 2010 post, "First Solar Shows Utility Type Growth, Does it Deserve a Utility Type Multiple? A VERY Important Article for Solar Investors (FSLR; SPWRA; STP; TSL)" originally posted as "A VERY Important Article for Solar Investors (I'm Talking to You First Solar, Trina Solar, Suntech and Sunpower) FSLR; SPWRA, SPWRB; STP; TSL; YGE".

See also yesterday's:
Bloomberg Goes SEO Crazy in the Headline: "Obama $8 Billion Solar Betamax Unwinds as China Backs Rival" (FSLR; GE; SI)