Why Short Sellers Boosted Positions in Solar Energy Stocks

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Short interest moves among solar and alternative energy stocks were mixed during the two-week reporting period that ended on September 30. Of the companies we watch, short interest rose on three of four solar stocks and on two of four alt energy stocks.

Short interest in solar stocks followed a couple of market moves that boosted share prices during the two-week period. 8Point3 Energy Partners, the yieldco formed by First Solar and SunPower, raised more than $100 million in a secondary offering in late September, and SolarCity stock continues to rise and fall based on the outlook for the company’s merger with Tesla Motors.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) saw short interest rise by 6% to 13.44 million shares, which represents 17.9% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained unchanged at four. In the two-week short interest period through September 30, the stock’s share price rose by about 12.7%. Its 52-week trading range is $33.74 to $74.29, and it closed at $38.28 on Tuesday, down about 0.8% for the day.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) short interest decreased by 7.1% to 15.36 million shares, or 26.3% of the company’s float. Between the latest settlement dates, the share price fell by nearly 25%. The stock’s 52-week range is $7.37 to $31.10, and it closed at $8.24 on Tuesday, down nearly 4% on the day. Days to cover remained unchanged at four.

SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) short interest jumped 14.9% to 24.89 million shares, 37.9% of the company’s total float. Days to cover rose from four to seven. In the short interest period, the share price rose by 15.8%. The stock’s 52-week range is $16.20 to $58.87, and shares closed at $19.38 Tuesday night, down about 1% for the day. The big jump in the share price came as the result of a short squeeze that forced short sellers to return then buy back their borrowed shares. SolarCity’s shares rose as much as 15% during the two-week period.

Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) saw a rise of 6% in short interest during the two weeks to September 30. Some 18.3% of the total float, 8.11 million shares, were short, and days to cover remained unchanged at four. The company’s share price rose by more than 13% over the period, and shares closed Tuesday at $14.52, down about 1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $11.72 to $29.83.

FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) posted a decrease of 0.7% in short interest during the two-week period. Some 4.76 million shares were short as of September 30. The stock closed at $5.05 on Tuesday, down about 4.7% for the day, in a 52-week range of $4.51 to $12.24. Shares added about 7.5% in the short interest period, and days to cover rose from eight to 12.

Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG) had short interest decrease by 0.8% to 31.44 million shares. Days to cover remained unchanged at 14, and about 17.6% of the company’s shares were short. In the settlement period, the stock’s share price rose by nearly 25%. Its 52-week range is $1.30 to $2.98, and shares closed Tuesday at $1.65, down about 2.4% for the day.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE) saw a rise of 16.7% in short interest to 10.56 million shares. About 9.8% of the company’s float was short and days to cover rose from three to five. Shares rose by about 3.7% in the two-week period. The stock closed at $4.39, down about 2.7%, on Tuesday, in a 52-week range of $2.15 to $6.20.

Pacific Ethanol Inc.‘s (NASDAQ: PEIX) short interest fell by 1% in the two-week period to 3.42 million shares, about 8.9% of the company’s float. Days to cover rose from six to eight. The stock price rose by about 8.7% in the two weeks to September 30. Shares closed at $7.18 on Tuesday, down about 2% on the day, in a 52-week range of $2.41 to $7.50.