Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Solar: "Solyndra Files for $300 mil. IPO" and "Was Solyndra the Reason Goldman Sachs Threw First Solar Under the Bus?" (SOLY: FSLR; GS)

Here's the straight news, from Reuters:

California solar company Solyndra Inc filed for an initial public offering worth up to $300 million on Friday.

Solyndra makes thin film solar panels, which are generally cheaper to make than traditional silicon-based panels.

Solar companies have struggled this year as prices for their cells and panels have fallen by half because of an oversupply.

Demand has improved, raising hopes that the industry will resume its sharp growth in 2010, but new companies are still being evaluated on a case-by-case basis, analysts say.

Last week Chinese thin film panel maker Trony Solar Holdings Co Ltd postponed indefinitely its initial public offering due to weak market conditions.

Solyndra began commercial shipments of its solar panel systems in July 2008 and has increased sales volume and revenue every quarter since, but has incurred net losses since its inception as it invests in manufacturing, it said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission....MORE

Here's the SEC filing: S-1
earth2tech pulled some facts out of the doc:

...We spent a couple hours today wading through the over 145-page document and decided to pull out these tidbits, including that as of Oct. 3, Solyndra says, it has raised “approximately $970 million through equity financings.” As of early September the company was saying it had raised close to $800 million.

Grid Parity by 2012: Solyndra hopes by 2012 it will be able “to deliver photovoltaic systems for commercial rooftops that produce electricity at rates that are competitive with the retail price of electricity in key markets on a non-subsidized basis.” In other words, it basically wants to reach grid parity — the holy grail of the solar biz — within, give or take, two years.

Just Started Selling: Solyndra just started commercial shipments in July 2008 and says it sold 17.2 MW of panels in the nine months ended Oct. 3, compared with 1.6 MW for the fiscal year ended Jan. 3, 2009. Solyndra says its first factory has produced less than 30 MW of output.

Bulk of Customers in Germany, Europe: Solyndra says during the fiscal year ended Jan. 3, 69 percent of revenue was from sales to customers in Germany. And over 85 percent of its shipments to date have been to Europe. Customers include Alwitra GmbH, Carlisle Syntec, Geckologic, Phoenix Solar, Premier Solar Systems, Solar Power, Sunconnex, Sun System and USE Umwelt Sonne Energie.

Those customers also make up a large percentage of business currently. Solyndra says for the fiscal year ended Jan. 3, revenue from Geckologic and Phoenix Solar accounted for 29 percent and 27 percent, respectively, of total revenue. For the nine months ended Oct. 3, revenue from USE Umwelt Sonne Energie, Carlisle Syntec and Alwitra accounted for 19 percent, 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively, of total revenue.

Future Volume Plans: Solyndra says it has “framework agreements with system integrators and roofing materials manufacturers outlining general terms for the delivery of up to 865 MW of our photovoltaic systems by the end 2013.” Its first factory will have an annualized production run rate of 110 MW by the fourth fiscal quarter of 2010, and its second factory will have an annualized production run rate of 500 MW....MORE

In october '08 we posted:

Was Solyndra the Reason Goldman Sachs Threw First Solar Under the Bus? (FSLR; GS;

Goldman Sachs' downgrade of Sunpower and more particularly First Solar, with which Goldman was underwriter, major shareholder and best buds, got the investoblogs humming yesterday.
GS owned 4,300,000 shares of FSLR as recently as August, 2007. The Walmart heirs were original funders of FSLR (and the largest holders). One of the things brought up on the blogs is a passage from a Fortune article we linked to in July:

...No one has been as quick to move into the Mojave -- or as tightlipped about it -- as Solar Investments.

That entity, it turns out, is Goldman Sachs' solar subsidiary. The investment bank's designs on the desert are a topic of intense interest and speculation. Goldman declined to comment. But here's what we know:

Solar Investments filed its first land claim in December 2006 and within a month had applied for more than 125,000 acres for power plants that would produce ten gigawatts of electricity. Many of the sites lie close to the transmission lines that connect the desert to coastal cities. (Goldman has also staked claims on 40,000 acres of the Nevada desert.)

Nobody expects Goldman to begin operating solar plants. It will probably either partner with another developer or sell its limited-liability company (and its leases) outright. The firm has been making the rounds of solar developers....

"I view Goldman as a very interesting indicator of things to come," says Brian McDonald, PG&E's director of renewable-resource development.

Among the investors in Solyndra is Madrone Capital Partners, which manages money for the Waltons. Gregory Penner was recently elected to Walmart's board. Here's a snip from the company's press release:
Penner, 38, has been a General Partner at Madrone Capital Partners since 2005. He served as Wal-Mart’s senior vice president and chief financial officer in Japan from 2002 to 2005. Prior to working for Wal-Mart, Penner was a general partner at Peninsula Capital, an early-stage venture capital fund, and a financial analyst for Goldman, Sachs & Co. He is a member of the board of directors of Baidu.com, 99Bill Corporation, Cuill, Inc. and Global Hyatt Corporation. Penner is married to Carrie Walton Penner, daughter of Wal-Mart Chairman Rob Walton.
Goldman Sachs was recently raising money for Solyndra. From Greenlight, August 12:
...Under the deal, Goldman Sachs, the lead bank on the deal, is trying to sell $120 million of convertible securities to existing investors and $230 million to newcomers. The convertible securities could be converted to Solyndra shares in the event of an IPO....MORE
Solyndra's CIGS approach has some advantages over FSLR's CdTe. On the other hand it could just be the Walton's and Goldman doing the cheap stock thing all over again.
It will be interesting to see how much FSLR stock the two entities have sold. I'll be coming back to this. For sure.
See also:
First Solar Snags Rival Solyndra’s Top Scientist (FSLR)

Goldman Sachs and the Solar Land Rush (FSLR; GS)

Solyndra’s backlog passes US$2 billion as new sales agreement signed (GS)