Solar Stocks Brightening (TSL, CTDC, STRI, STP, YGE, LDK, SOLF, JASO, WFR, STP, SPWRA)

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Just over a week ago, several solar stocks had a nice jump as the DJIA rose some 200+ points. Not all the gains were made by simply hanging on the Dow’s coat tails. There was some good news from the solar sector as well.

Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE: TSL) received an upgrade following a strong earnings report and an increase in its forecast for shipment volumes. That boost propelled shares in China Tech Development Group Corp.(NASDAQ: CTDC), STR Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:  STRI), Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP), Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. (NYSE: YGE), and LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) to gains of between 4.7% and 8.2% in a single day.

Share price moves in the solar sector have varied widely. Low-cost module makers like JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) and Solarfun Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: SOLF) have prospered as crystalline PV costs have fallen. Similarly, wafer makers and thin-film PV module makers have not done as well.  MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. (NYSE: WFR), SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWRA), and Suntech, a thin-film PV maker, are lagging.

Here’s a quick look at three firms that are trading well above their 52-week low, and three firms that are not.

Solarfun’s 52-week trading range is $4.48-$12.30, and it is trading today at around $11.50, up 155% from its 12-month low. Shares are trading today down less than 1%.

JA Solar shares have traded in a 52-week range of $3.57-$7.35, and shares are trading at about $7.10 today, up 98% from the 52-week low. Trina Solar shares are also trading 98% above their 52-week low, at about $27.50. Trina Solar’s 52-week range is $13.92-$31.19.

Among the lower performing stocks, MEMC shares have traded in a 52-week range of $9.19-$19.31. The shares are trading today around $10.75, up 17.5% from their lows.

Suntech shares have traded in a 52-week range of $7.53-$18.78, and trade today at about $9.00, up 19.3% from the 52-week low.

Sunpower shares have traded in a 52-week range of $9.61-$33.97, and are trading today at about $29.50, up 22% from the 52-week low.

Solar shares, as a group are performing well, but some are just performing better. Low-cost manufacturing, a solid order book, and the ability to add capacity, especially for crystalline PV, seem to make the difference between stocks that perform well and those that perform exceptionally well.

Paul Ausick