Friday, August 29, 2008

To Our Friends on the Gulf Coast: Good Luck, Be Smart

We've spilled as many electrons on Gustav as any non-specialist blog out there. Part of the reason is that we get new visitors to the site. If those new visitors are coming to CI for hurricane news the least we can do is show them the two best hurricane blogs on the WWW.
Here's the lastest from Wunderblog, Dr. Jeff Masters, proprietor:

Gustav clears Jamaica, grows significantly in size
Tropical Storm Gustav has completed its traverse of Jamaica and the center has now exited the western end of the island. At 7:06 am EDT, the Hurricane Hunters found the center of Gustav on the western tip of Jamaica. The storm weathered the passage over the island with relative ease, with the pressure only rising 5 mb, from 983 to 988 mb. Gustav's top winds remain below hurricane force, near 65 mph. Top winds measured in Jamaica during Gustav's passage were in the capital of Kingston, where sustained winds of 50 mph were measured last night. Preliminary news reports indicate that Jamaica suffered no major damage or injuries. However, the death toll has risen to 59 on Hispaniola, where flooding from Gustav killed 51 people in Haiti and 8 in the Dominican Republic....
...The track forecast for Gustav
The trough of low pressure moving across the Midwest U.S. expected to pull Gustav northwest towards the Gulf Coast is expected to weaken and be replaced by a ridge of high pressire on Monday. This means that Gustav may stall just before or just after landfall near Louisiana, and be forced westwards. The models are split: the GFS, HWRF, and GFDL models all carry Gustav into Louisaina or Mississippi on Monday, with a possible turn to the west after landfall. The ECMWF, NOGAPS, and UKMET all foresee a turn to the west before Gustav reaches the coast. The ECMWF and NOGAPS models predict an eventual landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, while the UKMET bends Gustav southwestwards towards Mexico....MORE

Permanent link on the left.

The other one we depend on is the Houston Chronicle's SciGuy, Eric Berger:

Don't freak out about the newest models, but...

The latest computer models have been released and they reflect a distinct shift westward, toward Texas, for Hurricane Gustav's path. This almost certainly presages a similar shift in the National Hurricane Center's forecast track that will be released at 4 p.m. CT.

Here are most of the models we care about:

Weather Underground

Each of the newest models now appear to show an influence from a high pressure system forecast to build southward from the Great Lakes region, which would push Gustav west. What this means is that we're looking at storm that will probably make landfall in Louisiana or Texas....

Here's the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Gustav page.
Here's the ONN on a U.S.-Centric worldview.
(HT: Dr. Masters)

Hurricane Bound For Texas Slowed By Large Land Mass To The South

Hurricane Bound For Texas Slowed By Large Land Mass To The South

Potash Corp still poised to double market cap (POT)

From the Financial Post:

Despite some near term hiccoughs based on ongoing labour uncertainty and market volatility, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. is still poised to more than double its market capitalization to a whopping $130-billion sometime over the next year, according to Canaccord Adams analyst Keith Carpenter.

Mr. Carpenter reiterated his "buy" rating and his impressive 12-month price target of $425 for Potash Corp. shares on Friday, while weighing in on the announcement earlier this week from the company that it has restarted potash mining and milling operations at its Allan mine in Saskatchewan....MORE

Arizona: Large solar manufacturer sizing up Chandler sites

From AZ Central:
A major solar manufacturing company that officials are comparing in size to Intel is looking at sites along the Price Road Corridor in Chandler, said Economic Development Director Christine Mackay.She and Barry Broome, president and chief executive of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council say the firm's decision to build in this area could have a significant positive impact on the Valley's economy.Among the sites being considered is the 153-acre Motorolaparcel near Price and Queen Creek roads, Mackay said.

Broome declined to name the company but described it as "one of the stars in the solar industry" and "the most exciting project GPEC has ever done." He compared the project's size and potential for high-paying jobs to Intel, the city's largest employer.Chandler is vying with Oregon for the location and could lose out if state lawmakers don't soon approve financial incentives for the solar industry in coming months, Broome said.He is proposing an incentive plan that includes property tax reductions and state income tax credits for qualifying solar companies. The idea stalled during the last legislative session, but Broome said he is working with Gov. Janet Napolitano to launch a major solar energy push in coming months....MORE

First Solar, SunPower, To Get Clobbered In 2009, Sell After Trade Show (FSLR, SPWR, AMAT)

That's ClusterStock"s headline, they must be readers of Joel Achenbach:
...When in doubt, go with the most hysterical headline.
(Rule one of blogging is that the End Of The World will be good for page views.)
Here's the FSLR story:
FBR remains a staunch bear when it comes to the solar industry. And today, it's business as usual as the firm reiterates its thesis that the supply of solar systems will grow much faster than demand in CY09, leading to Average Selling Price and margin pressures that have yet to be "fully" dialed into solar stocks.

FBR sees more than the anticipated downside risk for SunPower (SPWR) in Spain:

Solaria (the largest Spanish system installer/developer) reported yesterday a 45% QOQ decline in megawatt (MW) shipments in 2Q, some of which was driven by 50MW of cancellations. Since we expect 30%-plus of SPWR's revenue mix in CY08 to be driven by Spain, and since Spain is expected to slow down dramatically in CY09, unless other geographies pick up significantly, we see Solaria's news as another indictor of downside risk to CY09 expectations for SPWR....MORE

GE reshapes the future of wind power

From cnet:

General Electric's wind energy division is trying to find a "Goldilocks" turbine design, one that's not too big and not too small.

Like other wind manufacturers, GE is benefiting from booming demand for wind turbines in Europe and in the U.S., even with the possibility of a renewable-energy tax credit lapsing later this year.

Still, the rapid expansion is being throttled by high prices of steel and other commodities, making wind power more expensive.

So instead of making bigger and bigger machines, manufacturers are trying to squeeze more energy from conventionally sized wind turbines.

That will be done by using alternative materials, better electronics, and shaping turbine blades to better capture the wind, said Stephane Renou, who manages research and development for General Electric's wind technology platform.

"The optimal point is changing...and going bigger is not the answer," Renou said. "Turbines in the two or three megawatt zone are the most efficient and the best cost per kilowatt."

A 2 megawatt or 3 megawatt wind turbine is still large. The tower on a 2.5 megawatt machine can stand nearly 330 feet high....

...One area that GE's wind labs is not pursuing aggressively is energy storage. A handful of companies and utilities are looking at truck-sized batteries or underground compressed-air storage to incorporate renewable energy more reliably.

But Renou said that storage attached to wind turbines is not likely to happen in the next two years. Instead, beefed-up transmission lines, along with smarter power-grid management, could push wind to make up 10 percent of power generation, up from less than 1 percent now.

"The grid is a fantastic source of energy storage. Wind variability can be handled by the grid and grid management," he said. "It's more about policy and grid development."

Attention Trina Solar Investors: Currency Watch (TSL)

UPDATE: I was asked why I didn't include the current quote. 1 RMB will cost you 14.623 cents this morning. The key though, is the quote on the last day of the quarter. The point of the post was that the rise of the RMB had slowed, not that it had turned. Chinese inflation is still running above 10% but the odds of the Bank of China having to raise rates (thus strengthening the RMB) are decreased by the slowing world economy. Plus, Chinese exporters would scream bloody murder . Those exporters provide the jobs that help keep a lid on political turmoil in the Middle Kingdom.
See, investing is easy.

Original post:
Trina's shareholders are likely to see a major positive from the company's decision to use the U.S. dollar as their functional currency, at least for the current (third) quarter. Trina's renminbi denominated balance sheet items should require a much smaller charge than the $6.1 mm in Q2. From Hard Assets Investor:

...The currency dodged a bullet in July, going into the month worth 14.59 U.S. cents, peaking at 14.70, then sliding into August at 14.66.

The renminbi dipped to 14.57 cents on August 19.

Chinese Yuan Renminbi Vs. U.S. Dollar (July '05 - August '08)

Chart: Chinese Yuan Renminbi vs. Dollar (July 2005 - August 2008)

Vattenfall Orders 100 MW of Vestas Turbines

For some perspective, T. Boone Pickens' Mesa Power LLP placed an order for 667 of G.E.'s 1.5 MW turbines in May, a cool 1000 MW. Vattenfall has more orders to come to reach their goal of 8 terrawatt hours of electricity from wind by 2018.
Danish wind turbines manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S announced on Thursday (28 August) that it has secured an order for 50 wind turbines from the Swedish wind energy developer Vattenfall Vindkraft Sverige AB, part of the energy group Vattenfall.

The order covers delivery of V90-2.0 MW turbines for several projects in southern Sweden, and includes an option to buy commissioning services, a VestasOnline Business Scada solution and a two-year service agreement.

The turbines will be delivered during 2010....MORE

5N Plus Inc. Extends Supply Agreements with First Solar, Increases Minimum Quantities to be Ordered (FSLR, VNP.TO)

From the press release:
5N Plus Inc. (TSX: VNP) today announced
the extension of its supply agreement with First Solar, Inc. pursuant to which
5N Plus provides cadmium telluride and cadmium sulphide to First Solar from
5N Plus' Montreal facility. 5N Plus Inc. also announced the extension of its
supply agreement with First Solar Inc., relating to the supply of similar
product from 5N Plus' German facility, which agreement is subject to the
execution of notarized documents in accordance with German law. Pursuant to
these amendments, the previous supply agreements are being extended until
July 31, 2012, representing approximately one additional year.
The agreements are being amended to increase by 50% the minimum
prescribed quantities of cadmium telluride to be ordered by First Solar for
most of the remaining term of the agreements. In addition, the definition of
"change of control", which allows First Solar to exercise a purchase option
over 5N Plus' German assets in certain circumstances, are being materially
amended, such that a "change of control" will now occur only when a party
acquires 50% or more of the issued and outstanding shares of 5N Plus.

I had forgotten about little VNP until this showed up in an email. Here's their last earnings
5N Plus Inc. (TSX: VNP) today announced
financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended May 31, 2008.

Highlights of the fourth quarter and year ended May 31, 2008
- Net earnings for the fourth quarter were $3,178,621 or $0.08 per share,
representing a 160% increase over net earnings of $1,222,428 or
$0.04 per share for the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal year.
For the fiscal year, net earnings were $7,766,137 or $0.22 per share,
representing an increase of 117.3% over net earnings of $3,574,082 or
$0.12 per share for the previous fiscal year.

- EBITDA(1) for the fourth quarter was $4,646,476, representing an
increase of 86.7% over EBITDA of $2,488,087 for the fourth quarter of
the previous fiscal year. EBITDA reached $12,481,760 for the fiscal
year, an increase of 73.3% over EBITDA of $7,202,310 for the previous
fiscal year.

- Sales for the fourth quarter were $9,423,908, representing an increase
of 43.9% over sales of $6,549,412 for the fourth quarter of the
previous fiscal year. Sales for the fiscal year were $30,972,941, an
increase of 41.4% compared to sales of $21,897,240 for the previous
fiscal year.

- Operational performance was outstanding throughout the year as the
Company increased production throughput at its Montreal facility, to
meet the growing requirements of the Company's customers, while
improving efficiency and reducing costs.

- Cash flow from operating activities, excluding changes in non-cash
working capital items, increased to $3,552,457 for the quarter and
$9,880,266 for the fiscal year. This compares to $1,553,438 and
$4,738,467 for the corresponding periods of the previous fiscal year.

- Shareholders' equity significantly increased during the fourth quarter
and the fiscal year, reaching $91,553,930 at year end, up from
$7,546,467 at the end of the previous fiscal year. During the fourth
quarter, the Company raised $46,200,000 through the issuance of
4 million common shares, which resulted in net proceeds of $44,147,461
(net of issue expenses). This followed the closing of the Company's
initial public offering which occurred during the third quarter of the
fiscal year, resulting in net proceeds to the Company of $31,417,006
(net of issue expenses)....

The stock went public at $3.00 on Dec. 20, 2007.
Chart via Yahoo Finance:
Chart for 5N PLUS INC (VNP.TO)
Some of our earlier posts on 5N Plus:

First Solar Supplier 5NPlus: 5N Plus Inc. New German Facility Now Operational

5N Plus Third Quarter Sales Up 50.5%, Profit Doubles; Webcast Today 10:00 AM EDT (VNP.TO; FSLR)

First Solar: Materials for Solar Photovoltaic Cells II: Tellurium, Not So Rare After All (FSLR; VNP.TO)

Off Topic- "Who? Here's a Primer on GOP Veep Choice Sarah Palin"

That was my reaction. Well actually "Huh", then who.
From Poynter:
Sarah Palin (pronounced PAY-lin) took office as Alaska's first female governor Dec. 4, 2006. She is 44 years old and is a mother of five kids. Her youngest child, born in April, has Down Syndrome.

In April, The Anchorage Daily News reported:

Trig Paxson Van Palin arrived about a month early and has Down syndrome, the governor confirmed. Testing during early pregnancy revealed the condition. Palin said she was sad at first but they now feel blessed that God chose them. The couple has lots of family support, she said.

The governor has roots in local government, serving two terms on the Wasilla City Council and two terms as the mayor/manager of tiny Wasilla, Alaska. Wasilla is a town of 6,700 people whose average family income is $53,000.

Palin says she is a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association and her official bio shows her holding on to a caribou she apparently hunted. That sort of photo plays well in Alaska where her approval ratings hang in the 80%-90% range.

See this story on the ride of Sarah Palin from KTUU TV in Anchorage.

Just a week or so ago, Alaskans got a cash gift from the governor and the legislature. Look at this release from her office:...More

Oil cos, speculators buy Gustav-linked derivatives. And: Oil Rig Insurers

From Reuters:
A swift business is being done in Gustav-linked derivatives as energy companies and insurers scramble to cover themselves and others speculate the tropical storm will become a hurricane and wind its way into the Gulf of Mexico in coming days.

Insurance brokerage Carvill is among the companies to sell catastrophe, or cat, derivatives to plug gaps in reinsurance capacity that can follow disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.

Of particular interest to energy companies are so-called cat-in-the-box products, which cover a specific geographic area that is home to many offshore oil and gas rigs.

"We have energy companies buying to protect rigs in the Gulf with the cat-in-the-box product ... while (coastal contracts) cover the landfall of the storm, and are being bought by insurers, reinsurers and hedge funds," Patrick Gonnelli, president of Carvill Capital Markets, said in a phone interview....MORE

HT: RISK Over-the-Counter who had this post last November (a little late in the season, eh wot?):

For Whom the Cat Risk Tolls

Casual observers of the catastrophe risk transfer market might be forgiven for thinking catastrophe bonds are the be-all and end-all when it comes to non-traditional sources of reinsurance. They're wrong.

Privately negotiated natural catastrophe derivatives and industry-loss warranties (ILWs), de facto catastrophe index options structured as reinsurance contracts, are viewed by many as an equally important instrument in encouraging the convergence of insurance and financial risks....

We had this in July '07:
How To Hedge A Hurricane

And in Feb. '07:
ME-Carvill Hurricane Index to be Available for 2007 Hurricane Season

(oops, RISK beat us on that one by three days)

From Bloomberg:

Oil-Rig Insurers Brace for Test as Gustav Bears Down

Tropical Storm Gustav, projected to reach the Gulf of Mexico by Sunday, may reveal whether insurers have done enough to limit risks of covering offshore oil rigs in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

American International Group Inc., Zurich Financial Services Group AG and Liberty Mutual Group Inc. were among insurers that raised prices fivefold and capped losses after the two hurricanes caused record offshore claims estimated at $8 billion in 2005....MORE

Best Farm Economy since 1970s Comes With Expense Risk. And: Closing Mines Hint Commodity Market Bottom; Oil's Biggest Weekly Gain in Two Months

Three from Bloomberg:
U.S. agricultural income is the highest in three decades after corn and soybeans rose to records. The risk for farmers is that costs are rising even faster, increasing concern of a profit squeeze.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture report tomorrow may show costs are accelerating as revenue growth slows, similar to a pattern that led to a 1980s farm crisis that was the worst since the Great Depression, said Gary Schnitkey, a University of Illinois farm economist. Corn, wheat and soybean prices are all at least 18 percent below their peaks.

Fertilizer costs doubled from a year ago, while fuel increased 62 percent, USDA data show. Expenses probably will surpass the $279.2 billion that the USDA estimated in February, eroding net income the government pegged at a record $92.3 billion for 2008, farmers and economists said.

``Income peaked this year,'' said Kurt Line, who owns or manages more than 6,800 acres of farmland near Momence, Illinois. ``We should see a significant drop in 2009. For the number of dollars we will be risking the next two years, profit margins are not going to be robust.''>>>MORE


Commodities Hint of Bottom on Mine Closings, Supplies

Corn and soybeans have rebounded as reduced crop yields push U.S. stockpiles to near five-year lows. Oil has reversed on U.S.-Russian tensions. Nickel has turned after Xstrata Plc closed a Dominican Republic plant.

The worst rout in the history of commodities may be ending, signaling a replay of the 2006 tumble that preceded a doubling of prices in the next 17 months as measured by the Standard & Poor's GSCI index. Only this time, the driver is supply cuts rather than increasing demand....MORE

Crude oil headed for its biggest weekly gain in almost two months and natural gas rose as producers evacuated rigs before the arrival of Gustav, forecast to be the largest hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Katrina.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and ConocoPhillips started pulling workers from Gulf of Mexico platforms and cutting production in a region that pumps 26 percent of U.S. oil and 14 percent of gas output. Louisiana officials said they will start evacuating residents today in two counties around New Orleans that house refineries owned by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Valero Energy Corp.

Crude oil for October delivery rose as much as $1.80, or 1.6 percent, to $117.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $116.79 a barrel at 12:31 p.m. London time. Prices are up 2 percent this week, the biggest gain since the week of July 4....CONTINUED

Hurricane Watch: Gustav Aiming Closer to Texas

Oil is trading at $116.81 up 1.22 and natural gas is up .088 at $8.138
From the Houston Chronicle's SciGuy:

Tropical Storm Gustav remains near hurricane strength tonight and will likely begin intensifying once exiting the vicinity of Jamaica tomorrow. Also tonight, the new official forecast track has been adjusted west, nearer to the Texas-Louisiana border....MORE

This change reflects a shift in this evening's computer models, shown below:


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Clean Energy Patent Growth Index 2d Quarter 2008

Via RenewableEnergyWorld:
Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C., an intellectual property law firm based in Albany, New York, is pleased to announce results for the second quarter of 2008 for the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) by the firm's Cleantech Group.

The Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) provides an indication of the trend of innovative activity in the Clean Energy sector since 2002 in the U.S., along with Leading Patent Owners and Leading Country and State information. Results from the second quarter of 2008 reveal the CEPGI to have a value of 217 granted U.S. patents which is down three from the first quarter of 2008 and down from a value of 228 in the second quarter of 2007.

The components breakdown of the CEPGI illustrated in the figure shows fuel cells dominating the other components in absolute numbers, but a downward trend for fuel cell patents begun in the fourth quarter of 2006 continued, falling by 10 relative to the first quarter. Granted wind and solar patents headed along opposite trajectories for the last two quarters with wind ascending (48) and solar (21) descending. Hybrid/electric vehicle patents (14) continued their downward trend begun in early 2007.

Tidal/wave energy granted patents continued an upward trend since the third quarter of 2007 with 10, up 1 relative to the first quarter....MORE

Further information regarding the CEPGI is available at

002 All Sectors by Quarter - 2008Q2

(click the image for a larger version)

Hurricane Watch: Gustav and Hanna--and many more to come

Oil was changing hands at $115.60 -2.55 and natural gas was at $8.059 -.549*
From Wunderblog:
It's time to get familiar with the names Hanna, Josephine, Ike, and Kyle [**], because the tropical Atlantic is about to put on a rare burst of very high activity in the coming weeks.

The atmosphere pulled a major surprise last night and this morning, substantially altering the short and long-term fate of Tropical Storm Gustav. The ridge of high pressure that was forcing Gustav to the west shifted positions, and is now oriented southwest-to-northeast. This has pushed Gustav to the southwest, and pumped in some dry air into the northwest side of Gustav. As a result of this dry air, and the weakening of the circulation due to interaction with Haiti's mountains, Gustav was forced to form a new center under heavy thunderstorms on the its south side, away from the dry air and Haiti. As a result, the center of Gustav is now passing very close to Jamaica, and Gustav will pound that island today with winds near hurricane force....MORE

And from MarketBeat:
As Evacuations Begin, Energy Companies Slip
The nation’s refiners and oil producers are making preparations to protect their Gulf of Mexico facilities from Gustav — and shareholders in some of those companies are readying for the storm by unloading some of their stock.

“Like Katrina and Rita, Gustav poses twin threats to the energy complex: disruption of oil and gas production and damage to, or interruption of, refining capacity,” write analysts at FBR Research.

The largest U.S. refiner, Valero Energy was recently down 1.3%. The company said it is prepared to shut its Gulf Coast facilities if evacuations are mandated ahead of the storm. Anadarko Petroleum slipped 1.7%. Devon Energy lost 4.8% and Diamond Offshore Drilling declined by 1.4%.

About 40% of U.S. refining capacity is located along the Gulf Coast, with the bulk of activity occurring between Houston and New Orleans, where Hurricanes Katrina and Rita knocked out power for weeks in 2005. still expects the storm to hit this region early next week as a Category 3 hurricane....MORE

*From Bespoke Investment Group:
Natural Gas Inventories Continue to Rise...



Figure 3. Visible satellite image from 7:30 am EDT Thursday August 28, 2008.
A long line of impressive tropical waves is lined up over the Atlantic and Africa.
Image credit: U.S. Navy.

Greenish Tint To Latest Tech IPO Filings

From Investors Business Daily:

Cleantech companies are giving a quiet initial public offering market a sudden spark of activity.

As of Aug. 20, five "green" companies had filed for IPOs this quarter, according to market tracker Matthew Molberger of Renaissance Capital.

Five cleantech filings in roughly seven weeks isn't yet a trend, but it's a step in the right direction, Molberger says.

"To make a (trend), we need to see another string of flings in the coming weeks," he said. "But I think we're certainly starting to see a foundation."

The first half of the slow 2008 saw a total of just four cleantech IPO filings in the U.S., of which two have gone public, says Molberger.

Solar, Wind, Waste, Batteries

The five recent filers run the gamut in clean technologies. Two are involved in solar. One is in the wind-power field. Another is trying to clean up fuels by reusing food waste. The fifth is focused on rechargeable batteries.

Analysts say that despite the slow economy, green companies continue to attract investor attention as consumers and governments put more focus on using cleaner power and making the U.S. and other countries more energy independent.

"It's sort of the next sexy space," Molberger said....MORE

Lower oil prices could help Alimentation Couche-Tard

From the Financial Post:
Alimentation Couche-Tard could benefit from a correction in the price of crude oil.

Analyst Sara O' Brien of RBC Capital Markets noted the retailer and gad bar owner, due to report first-quarter results on Sept. 2., has seen its share price rise 20% since the fourth quarter, benefiting from an inverse correlation to crude correction....
Just thought you should know.
(They're Canadian)

Solar: See You in October (Exceptin' ENER; ESLR; FSLR; SPWR; STP; TSL)

From Tech Trader Daily:

Solar Stocks: Cowen Sees ASPs Down 10%-15% In 2009

Pricing for solar modules in 2009 are likely to drop 10%-15% in 2009, with supply and demand largely in balance, according to Cowen analyst Robert Stone.

While that sound troubling, Stone notes that there are fears in the market that pricing could drop as much as 20%-25%, due to an expected sharp reduction in subsidies in Spain. But Stone sees offsetting factors, including enhanced U.S. subsidies, rapid growth in Italy and France and the emergence of demand in new regions, including the Middle East.

Stone sees solar demand of 6GW this year, increasing to 9GW in 2009 and 14GW in 2010. that view reflects his belief that Congress will pass a multi-year extension of the solar investment tax credit in the first half of 2009, “with higher residential credits and utility participation.” He says lower prices should boost demand in Germany, spark growth in Japan. “Italy appears close to grid parity,” he adds, “while Middle Eastern countries could deploy PV [photovoltaics] to preserve valuable hydrocarbons for export.”

Stone’s top picks are the thin-film players Energy Conversion Devices (ENER) and First Solar (FSLR); he’s also recommending crystalline silicon companies “with stronger supply portfolios,” including SunPower (SPWR), Suntech (STP), Evergreen Solar (ESLR) and Trina Solar (TSL).


I don't usually cut & paste an entire post (quality deserves traffic) but chopping Eric Savitz's succinct piece would lose not just flavor but facts.
(Besides, he justified, I gave him three links.)

There are a lot of downticks in the sector today. Personally I think average selling prices won't drop 15% and ENER's earnings release was just the signal for the herd to move on.
Consumer non-durables anyone?

As we said last Friday:

Earnings season is winding down and if past patterns hold, attention will drift away from the sector. Next week SOLF reports on the 27th and ENER wraps it up on the 28th.

Solar Thin Film: This is Starting to Be Real Money-AVA; Nanosolar; Solyndra

First, from Green Light:
Rumor: Solyndra Burning Through Nearly $15M a Month

The cash consuming machine that is CIGS never fails to astound.

Nanosolar, which makes copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) solar panels, confirmed with Dow Jones that it has raised $300 million in another round of financing. Sources have said for the past few weeks that Nanosolar was raising another round. Nanosolar already raised about $150 million, bringing their total now close to $450 million. The company, however, has garnered almost no revenues and only started shipping products, to a limited customer base, in December.

But the company isn’t the only one in this sort of situation. Solyndra, which we reported is trying to raise an additional $350 million, is burning through $15 million a month, say sources. Solyndra already raised $72 million last year and is not shipping product. The company, however, has signed sales contracts to ship over $1 billion in solar panels to two customers between now and 2012, assuming the company can get in mass production. (Nanosolar has estmiated its value at $2 billion while Solyndra has said it is worth $1 billion.)...MORE

Next up VentureBeat:

Another massive funding for thin film solar, with $104M to AVA Solar, a challenger to First Solar

It may not be as much as the colossal $300 million financing that Nanosolar finally disclosed yesterday — the biggest ever for a solar company — but another thin-film manufacturer, AVA Solar, has broken into the nine-figure funding range today, with a challenge to industry giant First Solar’s dominance.

AVA stands out a bit from its peers, for several reasons. For one, it’s based in Fort Collins, Colorado, well away from the sunny or technology-laden areas its competitors operate in. The outfit has thus gotten relatively little attention. The second oddity is the technology that AVA uses, which builds thin-film cells using cadmium telluride (CdTe), a kind of semiconductor.

Most of the biggest bets in thin-film solar, a form of solar panel that is less efficient than traditional silicon-based cells but much cheaper to make, are based on copper-indium-gallium-selenide, or CIGS technology. Ascent Solar, Heliovolt, Miasole, Nanosolar, and a bunch of other companies all use CIGS. There’s an ongoing debate as to whether CIGS, CdTe or a third material, thin-film silicon, is best....MORE

Gustav goes south. Intensity goes north. Uncertainty abounds.

I've already seen two headlines referring to New Orleans as the Big Uneasy. Oil was recently trading at $118.23 up 8 cents after hitting $120.50 and natural gas was $8.21 down 0.398 with an intraday high of $8.808.
From SciGuy:

9:50 a.m. UPDATE: As some of you have noted, some of the models have swung back toward Louisiana this morning. The official forecast, as anticipated, has changed little.

The flip-flopping of the models is normal, and reflects the fact that the computers don't yet have a firm handle on the system. The data collected by the Hurricane Hunters today should provide some more consistency by tomorrow. Hopefully.

Also, Tropical Storm Hanna has formed in the Atlantic. Some of the models do weird things with the storm, but I do not believe a tropical system that has formed in this area has ever reached Texas. The likelihood of a Gulf of Mexico impact is nearly as low.

For now my focus will remain almost exclusively on Gustav.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: As often happens with tropical weather, Tropical Storm Gustav has taken an unpredictable turn overnight. Let's talk about it.


The storm's center re-formed to the south of its original position and now Gustav is only about 80 miles east of Jamaica. This has caused a shift in some of the computer model forecasts toward the Texas coast.

Now over water the storm has quickly strengthened into a 70-mph tropical storm this morning, and further intensification seems likely later today.

Yet although waters are warm in the Caribbean Sea and wind shear quite low, interaction with Jamaica should inhibit the rapid intensification of Gustav into a major hurricane for at least a day or two as the storm passes near the island's southern edge.


The high-pressure ridge over Florida apparently pushed Gustav's center southward over night. What will happen to the ridge now? Will it continue to expand and push the storm west? Or will it weaken and allow a northerly turn?...MORE

The models diverge widely in their solutions:

Weather Underground

Confusion over Media Report of M.I.T. "Solar Revolution" Claim?

An opinion piece at Scitizen:

Reports of a new discovery, by a team of MIT researchers, in the popular media are confusing, claiming that a magic "catalyst" has been discovered that can promote artificial photosynthesis, and which will solve the world's energy problems. The reality is less overwhelming and demonstrates a good case for the need for scientific integrity in all reporting of new "discoveries" in the media as in the scientific literature.

It is claimed [1,2] that researchers from M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have developed a new catalyst(?) for the electrochemical production of oxygen, which is part of a novel device to store solar-energy to use when the sun is not shining. Combined with a platinum catalyst(?) to generate hydrogen the two gases are produced using solar energy during daylight, and combined using a fuel-cell to produce electricity after dark.

The oxygen-producing catalyst is quoted as being made "of cobalt metal(?), phosphate, and an electrode, placed in water". "When electricity - whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source - runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced."

I think in reality, for "catalyst" one should read "electrode". What they have actually done is to develop a new anode (positively charged electrode in an electrolytic cell) for the splitting of water by electrolysis. The solution contains Co2+ cations (not cobalt metal) and HPO4]2- anions [3]. The electrode material consists of indium tin oxide upon which becomes absorbed some "cobalt-phosphate" solid when current is passed through it....MORE
See our post:
MIT on MIT's "Solar-Power Breakthrough"

Energy Conversion (ENER) Tops Q4 EPS by 8c; Guides Above The Street (ENER)

The stock is up $2.69 (3.43%) in pre-market trade.
From StreetInsider:
Energy Conversion (Nasdaq: ENER) reports Q4 earnings of $0.24 per share, well above the consensus of $0.16. Revenues came in at $82.4 million, versus the consensus of $77.5 million.

Energy Conversion sees Q1 revenues of $95-98 million, versus the consensus of $87.86 million.

Energy Conversion Sees FY09 revenue of of $455-$485 million, versus the consensus of $443.06 million....

Al Gore: Score!!! Camco sells 5.8 mln tonnes carbon offsets

Mr. Gore's Generation Investment Management is a 9.5% owner of Camco International.
In our last post on Camco we saw how profitable this business is. They reported a 154% gross profit margin on the sale of 151,288 tonnes sold at 19.07 euros. This batch of 5.8 million tonnes sold at 15 euros for non-guaranteed delivery as some of the projects had not yet been certified by the U.N.
Still, if the cost of goods sold are the same, a 100% gross margin.
From Reuters:
Project developer Camco (CAMIN.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has auctioned 5.8 million tonnes of carbon offsets, for non-guaranteed delivery, to buyers aiming to use these to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets, the company said on Thursday.

Camco shares were up nearly 6 percent in morning trading at 58 pence ($1.07)....

... "This transaction underwrites our estimates that Camco will be the first carbon trader to generate positive cashflows in 2008 - thereby proving its business model," said Gus Hochschild, analyst at Mirabaud Securities Limited, raising his share price target to 136p from 125p....MORE

See also: "Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore and T. Boone Pickens Walk Into a Bar (CLNE)"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Solar Stocks Comparison Table (8/27/2008)

A lot of upticks, especially in the larger caps. ENER reports Thursday. Link below.

(in $millions except per share numbers)
Company (Ticker) Mkt Price Daily YTD Rev Rev Chg EPS EPS Chg P/E

Chg Chg 08E 09E % 08E 09E % 08E
First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) 21786 277.00 1.6% 4% 1228 2200 79% 3.71 6.97 88% 75
MEMC (NYSE:WFR) 11394 49.84 2.8% -44% 2298 2852 24% 4.11 5.06 23% 12
Suntech Power (NYSE:STP) 6956 45.21 4.8% -45% 2153 3199 49% 1.68 2.61 56% 27
LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) 5202 50.03 6.0% 6% 1592 2505 57% 2.71 4.42 63% 18
SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) 3724 93.44 1.9% -28% 1421 2053 44% 2.32 3.64 57% 40
Energy Conv. (NASDAQ:ENER) 3158 78.34 2.1% 133% 251 443 77% 0.01 1.51 N/M N/M
JA Solar (NASDAQ:JASO) 2613 17.39 2.7% -25% 1046 1897 81% 0.99 1.64 65% 18
Yingli Green Energy (NYSE:YGE) 2161 17.03 -0.9% -56% 1105 1736 57% 1.00 1.63 62% 17
ReneSola Ltd. (NYSE:SOL) 2097 18.41 3.3% 42% 667 1172 76% 1.37 2.35 71% 13
Evergreen Solar (NASDAQ:ESLR) 1126 9.31 -0.7% -46% 114 418 266% -0.25 0.45 N/M N/M
Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) 842 30.69 0.0% 9% 962 1731 80% 2.70 3.76 39% 11
Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL) 805 31.72 2.3% -41% 843 1289 53% 3.35 4.42 32% 9
Solarfun Power (NASDAQ:SOLF) 784 16.33 -13.8% -50% 753 985 31% 0.94 1.20 27% 17
China Sunergy (NASDAQ:CSUN) 450 11.38 2.2% -31% 418 587 40% 0.18 0.88 386% 63
Akeena Solar (NASDAQ:AKNS) 118 4.17 -2.3% -48% 41 56 36% -0.63 -0.49 N/M N/M
DayStar Tech. (NASDAQ:DSTI) 102 3.13 -3.1% -50% 0 13 N/M -0.77 -0.82 N/M N/M
BTU Int'l (NASDAQ:BTUI) 95 10.19 0.8% -23% 77 97 26% 0.13 0.57 338% 78
Ascent Solar (NASDAQ:ASTI) 104 8.89 -0.1% -64% 2 5 160% -0.65 -0.61 N/M N/M
Spire Corporation (NASDAQ:SPIR) 90 10.83 2.3% -54% 78 129 65% 0.02 0.87 N/M 619
Hoku Scientific (NASDAQ:HOKU) 101 5.96 -1.8% -48% 17 104 503% -0.19 0.21 N/M N/M

Note: The last two columns, '09 est. P/E and net margins are cut off and available at China Analyst.