Did Short Sellers Shy Away From Solar Stocks Too Soon?

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Short interest moves among solar and alternative energy stocks were mixed during the two-week reporting period that ended on April 29. In the solar sector, three of the four companies we watch saw short interest drop, and three of four alt energy stocks also saw a decrease in short interest during the period.

Following the bankruptcy filing of SunEdison on April 21, solar stocks have suffered from a crisis of confidence in investors. SolarCity’s weak first-quarter results and lowered guidance issued earlier this week simply underlined investors’ wariness about the sector as a whole.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) saw short interest increase by 0.4% to 4.86 million shares, which represents 6.5% of the company’s float. Days to cover remained unchanged at two. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price fell by about 7.6%. Its 52-week trading range is $40.25 to $74.29, and it closed at $51.27 on Tuesday, up about 1.4% for the day, but down by about $10 a share in the past month.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) short interest fell by 8.8% to 12.07 million shares, or 21.1% of the company’s float. In the short interest period, the share price fell by about 6.2%. The stock’s 52-week range is $16.11 to $33.29, and it closed at $16.85.93 on Tuesday, down about 1.5% for the day after posting a new 52-week low. Days to cover rose from seven to eight.


SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) saw short interest fall by 8.2% to 21.69 million shares, 34.4% of the company’s total float. Days to cover slipped from six to four. In the short interest period, the share price rose by 3.5%. The stock’s 52-week range is $16.31 to $63.79, and shares closed at $17.82 on Tuesday, down nearly 21% for the day. The solar installer’s first-quarter report was disappointing and its outlook even more so.

Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) saw a decrease of 3.7% in short interest during the final two weeks of the month. Some 10.8% of the total float, 4.77 million shares, was short, and days to cover remained unchanged at three. The company’s shares fell about 2.5% in the period. Shares closed Tuesday at $15.46, unchanged for the day, in a 52-week range of $14.16 to $40.01. The company reported first-quarter earnings Wednesday morning and beat both top-line and bottom-line estimates.

FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) posted a decrease of 8.5% in short interest during the two weeks. Some 3.18 million shares were short as of April 29. The stock closed at $5.96 on Tuesday, up 5.3% for the day, in a 52-week range of $4.51 to $15.36. Shares dropped more than 16% in the two-week short interest period, and days to cover remained unchanged at nine. The company’s deal with Exxon to work on carbon capture technology provided a sharp, but temporary, boost to the stock price last week.

Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG) saw short interest decrease by 2.3% to 29.26 million shares. Days to cover fell from 23 to 19, and about 16.4% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to April 29, the stock’s share price fell by about 2.8%. Its 52-week range is $1.30 to $2.98, and shares closed most recently at $1.86, down about 3.6% for the day.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE) saw an increase of 14.4% in short interest to 12.94 million shares. About 16.1% of the company’s float was short, and days to cover rose from seven to eight. Shares fell by more than 7% in the two-week period. The stock closed at $3.25 on Tuesday, up about 2.9%, in a 52-week range of $2.15 to $8.85.

Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX) saw short interest fall by 0.4% in the settlement period to 3.9 million shares, about 10.6% of the company’s float. Days to cover rose from six to eight. The stock price rose by 6.3% in the two weeks. Shares closed at $4.45 on Tuesday, up about 4.7% on the day, in a 52-week range of $2.41 to $13.70.