The Best Solar Stock for 2011 (FSLR, STP, LDK, JASO, SPWRA, ENER, TSL, TAN, PBW)

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If there’s any single word that defines the solar market for 2011, it is “uncertainty.” Policy changes in Germany, France, the Czech Republic, and elsewhere in Europe are expected to slow growth in solar installations. Italy, the US, China, India, Canada, and other, smaller markets will pick up some of the slack, but probably not enough to soak up all the manufacturing increases that are coming on line in the new year.

Photo-voltaic solar installations are expected to outsell large-scale solar thermal projects, as governments keep a careful eye on spending and incentives. We’ll look only at solar PV companies in this story because that’s where the large, publicly traded companies compete. The solar PV players we’ll look at are First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP), LDK Solar Co. Inc. (NYSE: LDK), JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO), Sunpower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWRA), Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENER), and Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE: TSL).

Here’s a short table showing the tickers, the current price, the mean target price from Thomson Reuters, the implied upside to that target, and the 52-week trading range. We’ll have some comments on these companies following the chart.

Stock Current Target Implied Gain 52-week Range
FSLR $131.09 $153.34 16.97% 98.71 – 153.30
STP $7.84 $10.03 27.93% 7.05 – 18.78
LDK $10.08 $12.62 25.20% 4.97 – 15.10
JASO $6.87 $11.69 70.16% 4.22 – 10.24
SPWRA $13.02 $15.56 19.51% 9.61 – 26.35
ENER $4.55 $5.08 11.65% 3.76 – 12.75
TSL $23.17 $34.68 49.68% 14.85 – 31.89