Solar stocks are going to again be under a focus on Friday after the Commerce Department tariffs on Chinese solar products was far higher than originally projected. Duties will be up to 31% on solar cells and other solar-related materials if they are coming from China into the United States. While some U.S. players managed to stage a rally the news may not be universally good for U.S. solar players.
First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) has been a total disaster, but short covering and bottom-fishing traders are snapping up shares. After an all-time low of $13.75 this week, shares recovered to $14.92 on Thursday on the most active volume in two weeks (over 10 million shares). Shares are indicated above $15.00 for Friday but we will see if this can hold. SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ: SPWR) recovered more than 10% on Thursday after a recent low of $4.94 with a close of $5.59 on over 4 million shares (most since Feb 17 at 7.3 million shares).
One potential problem to consider is that the tariffs could inadvertently impact some of the U.S. producers of solar panels as well. The issue is that many components involved in making these PV panels also come from China.
Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP) is a loser in this tariff effort. Shares were at $2.60 just last Friday and the ADRs closed down at $2.13 on Thursday. Shares are indicated higher on Friday but we will have to see how it pans out. Trina Solar Limited (NYSE: TSL) is another loser with its ADR closing at $6.08 Thursday after having been at $7.50 just last Friday.
LDK Solar Co., Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) closed lower on Thursday at $2.91, but this is actually in-line with prices just last Friday and its 52-week range is $2.54 to $7.90.
GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT) is often lost in the shuffle as it is on the technology side of the solar PV process. It is also in LED technology. Shares closed down at $4.49 on Thursday against a 52-week low of $4.24. The 12 million shares traded on Thursday was the highest trading volume seen since last August.
If you really want to know what the trend is on a global-solar basis, just follow the Guggenheim Solar (AMEX: TAN). This ETF closed down yet again at $18.35 on Thursday after closing at $19.21 the prior day and against a $20.61 close last Friday.
Unfortunately, the solar sector has its share of woes and pain. Austerity, expiration of tax credits, a lack of cost-effectiveness, and other issues are going to be present for the time being whether tariffs exist or not.
JON C. OGG