Energy Business

Are Short Sellers Picking Solar Energy Survivors?

Paul Ausick

Short interest moves among solar and alternative energy stocks were mixed during the two-week reporting period that ended on March 15. In the solar sector, three of the five companies we watch saw short interest rise. Three of four alt energy stocks saw a decrease in short interest during the period.

The failed acquisition of Vivint Solar by SunEdison has rippled through solar industry, with other solar PV makers and installers getting something of a boost from the two erstwhile merger candidates.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) saw short interest decrease by 8.4% to 6.21 million shares, which represents 8.3% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained unchanged at three. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price rose by about 0.8%. Its 52-week range is $40.25 to $74.29, and it closed at $68.46 on Thursday, up about 0.3% for the day. The 52-week high was posted March 18.

SunEdison Inc. (NYSE: SUNE) showed an increase of 12.1% in short interest to 119.56 million shares. About 38% of the company’s float was short, and days to cover remained at two. In the latest short interest reporting period, the share price fell by about 8%. The stock closed at $1.21 on Thursday, down 4.7% for the day, in a 52-week range of $1.15 to $33.45. The 52-week low was posted Thursday following news stories wondering whether the troubled company can file its annual report by March 30. If it does not, SunEdison violates a loan agreement and it must enter negotiations with lenders who are unlikely to be very sympathetic.


SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) short interest rose by 1.6% to 12.85 million shares, or 22.5% of the company’s float. In the two weeks to March 15, the share price rose by about 3.3%. The stock’s 52-week range is $18.25 to $35.11, and it closed at $21.95 on Thursday, up about 0.4% for the day. Days to cover rose from five to nine.

SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) saw short interest fall by 10.6% to 24.51 million shares, or 39.5% of the company’s total float. Days to cover dropped from five to four. In the short interest period, the share price rose by more than 45%. The stock’s 52-week range is $16.31 to $63.79, and shares closed at $22.22 on Thursday, down about 0.6% for the day. The share price boost resulted from deals for solar projects with Whole Foods and NRG Energy.

Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) saw an increase of 6.3% in short interest during the period. Some 12.5% of the total float, 5.32 million shares, were short, and days to cover remained unchanged at two. The company’s shares fell nearly 12% over the two weeks. The stock closed Wednesday at $18.85, up about 0.5% for the day, in a 52-week range of $14.16 to $40.08.

FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) posted an increase of 7.8% in short interest during the two-week period. Some 3.5 million shares were short as of March 15. The stock closed at $6.94 on Thursday, up about 1.3% for the day, in a 52-week range of $4.51 to $16.32. Shares added more than 32% in the short interest period, and days to cover fell from seven to four.

Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG) saw short interest decrease by 1.9% to 32.51 million shares. Days to cover fell from 19 to 12, and about 18.2% of the company’s shares were short. In the first half of the month, the stock’s share price fell by about 4.5%. Its 52-week range is $1.30 to $2.98, and shares closed most recently at $2.02, up about 3.6% for the day.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE) saw a decrease of 4% in short interest to 14.17 million shares. About 20.1% of the company’s float was short, and days to cover fell from 10 to five. Shares rose by more than 19% in the two-week period. The stock closed at $2.96, up about 1.7%, on Thursday, in a 52-week range of $2.15 to $10.48.

Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX) saw short interest tumble by 15.6% in the two-week period to 3.82 million shares, about 10.4% of the company’s float. Days to cover fell from nine to three. The stock price rose by nearly 32% by mid-March. Shares closed at $4.61 on Thursday, down about 0.7% on the day, in a 52-week range of $2.41 to $13.70.