J.P. Morgan Raises Targets on Top Solar Stocks Before Earnings

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With second-quarter earnings season off and running, most of the firms that we cover on Wall Street are taking a relatively positive view of not only earnings this quarter, but for the rest of the year. Although first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) was a horrible -2.9%, earnings were still up reasonably well. The second quarter will show a positive GDP number, and most likely even stronger earnings growth, especially in fast-growing sectors like solar.

In a new research report from J.P. Morgan, analysts are not only very positive on their top solar names to buy, they are raising price targets on them in front of earnings releases. This shows a very deep confidence in the top names and their overall business plans and structure. With everything from Canadian pipeline project orders to domestic residential sales, the sector is clicking ahead at full speed.

Here are the top solar stocks now at J.P. Morgan.

Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) is the top pick in the solar space at J.P. Morgan, as the company is delivering panels at today’s costs against projects priced at generous FiT rates from two or more years ago. It is one of the world’s largest and foremost solar power companies.

As a leading vertically integrated provider of solar modules, specialized solar products and solar power plants with operations in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia and Asia, Canadian Solar has delivered more than 6 gigawatts of premium quality solar modules to customers in more than 70 countries. J.P. Morgan raises its price target for this top name to $43.50 from $41. The Thomson/First Call consensus target is set close by at $42.13. The stock closed Monday at $28.49 a share.

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First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) operates through two segments. The Components segment designs, manufactures and sells solar modules, such as CdTe modules that convert sunlight into electricity for project developers, system integrators and operators of photovoltaic (PV) solar power systems.

The Systems segment provides turn-key PV solar power systems or solar solutions, such as project development; engineering, procurement and construction; operating and maintenance; and project finance services to investor owned utilities, independent power developers and producers, commercial and industrial companies and PV solar power system owners. The J.P. Morgan price target goes to $76 from $75. The consensus target is $65.87. Shares closed trading Monday at $63.27.

SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) is a pure-play leader in the fast growth, roof-top solar as a service market. With many long-term contracts providing visibility into future cash flows, the company is a top name for risk tolerant investors to own. The J.P. Morgan team is very anxious to hear details from the company on further information regarding the Silevo acquisition, particularly how the initial one-gigawatt plant will be financed. The J.P. Morgan price target is raised to $77 from $72. The consensus number is huge as well at $83.67. SolarCity closed Monday at $66.84.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) rounds out the big four solar stocks to buy at J.P. Morgan, and it is the one name rated Neutral on valuation. The company offers solar power products, including panels, balance of system components and inverters. It also designs, manufactures and sells high-performance rooftop and ground-mounted solar power systems, as well as utility-scale photovoltaic power plants.

In addition, SunPower offers operations and maintenance services, including remote monitoring, preventative and corrective maintenance services, as well as rapid-response outage restoration and inverter repair services. Despite the Neutral rating, J.P. Morgan raises the price target from $40 to $43, and the consensus target is $39.68. SunPower closed Monday at $38.76.

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For years Wall Street has said that the time for solar stocks had finally arrived, and more than once investors have bought the call and been absolutely destroyed owning the sector. With lower costs, and an increasing need for energy both from a commercial and residential standpoint, the long-awaited critical mass for the sector may have finally arrived for good.

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