Tuesday, June 11, 2024

First Solar As Meme Stock (FSLR)

It's the action since last week that seemed inexplicable:

Chart Image


The earlier jump was on nice words from Piper Sandler's analyst on May 21st and then the next day at Barron's*, the latest grind higher on no news. 

And from the FT's Moral Money newsletter, a headline and then a quick hit, June 7:

First Solar is the clean tech sector’s meme stock bet
Also in today’s newsletter, majority of Europeans polled willing to pay for climate action  

 retail trading
....First Solar bucks clean tech sector trend with soaring share price

“Who is making money in renewable energy?”

It was a question posed to a group that included chief executives, investors and your Moral Money correspondent.

It is a fair question. Sustainable investing is languishing, in large part because of poor performance by renewable energy companies. Earlier this year, ├śrsted was forced to suspend its dividend and cut jobs and development plans. Smaller renewable energy companies are struggling to raise money from private equity funds that are wary of the risks.

But executives at First Solar are rolling in cash. The solar-panel maker’s shares are up 60 per cent so far this year and closed at $273 on Thursday. Chief executive Mark Widmar cashed out $10mn as the solar-panel maker’s share price soared more than 40 per cent in the past month. It is one of the largest single-day stock sales by a US chief executive in the past six months, according to VerityData. The company’s chief financial officer Alex Bradley cashed out $4.4mn in late May, the 10th-largest sale of the year for a US chief financial officer.

First Solar has benefited from the Biden administration’s China tariff announcements. But it has also been swept up in the “meme stock” phenomenon. This retail trading surge catapulted shares of a handful of companies — most notably GameStop — thanks to mentions on Reddit’s WallStreetBets thread.

On Thursday, GameStop’s shares surged nearly 50 per cent after Keith Gill, the “meme stock” investor known as Roaring Kitty, scheduled a livestream session on YouTube set for 12pm ET today.

First Solar is one of a handful of other stocks that are frequently discussed on WallStreetBets.

“The magnitude of the recent move is difficult to justify and points to a potential benefit from WallStreetBets,” Morningstar analyst Brett Castelli told me.

Meme stocks are extremely volatile and buying can vanish in a flash. Renewable energy company Plug Power had its own rollercoaster ride in May, according to Morningstar. But Plug Power’s shares have dropped in recent days.

For now, First Solar executives are definitely making money in renewable energy — even if it turns out to be a meme mirage. (Patrick Temple-West)....
Much More on various topics

*"First Solar gets price target lift from Piper Sandler, UBS" (FSLR)

 First Solar Leads The S&P 500 Gainers, Up $39.64 (+18.69%) FSLR

The stock is up 48% over the last month, up 4.29% (+$12.00) on the day. $291.80 last and closing in on that long-ago all-time high, $317.00 on May 14, 2008.