Energy Business

First Solar Marks a Top in Industry

Solar rooftop installation
Source: Thinkstock

When First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) reported first-quarter 2013 results after the markets closed last night, investors did not know whether to cheer or boo. Share prices rose and fell and rose again in after-hours trading. But the verdict appears to be in this morning, as the stock is down about 9% after posting a new 52-week high yesterday.

Shares of First Solar jumped 27% in one day early last month following the company’s upward revision of it fiscal year 2013 guidance. The company guided revenues and EPS well higher, and last night reaffirmed that guidance. But the damage had been done.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR), lately the darling of the solar sector, is down more than 5% today. The Chinese solar makers are faring worse perhaps. LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) is down nearly 6%, JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: JKS) is down more than 6% and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE) is down more than 3%.

First Solar’s CEO tried to put a positive spin on first quarter results by focusing on the company’s project pipeline. But when asked how much of that pipeline could be expected to be converted into booked orders, he said, “It’s future opportunities, it’s not really capable of that kind of analysis.”

Investors have made up their own minds about those “future opportunities,” not just at First Solar but at the other solar makers as well: those opportunities are at least partially wishful thinking. How big a part remains to be seen, but it seems pretty clear that SunPower’s results, posted last week, are destined to be the top of the market for solar stocks for at least another quarter or two.