First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) is surging at the same time that the company is conducting its analyst meeting. There are three issues running the stock higher, and there are implications elsewhere to consider as well.
First is that First Solar announced it has set a world record for cadmium-telluride photovoltaic module conversion efficiency with a record 17.0% total area module efficiency. This was in U.S. Department of Energy tests at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. That tops its prior 16.1% record set in April 2013. The company said that this record is all the more significant because it is full production size.
First Solar further said, “This announcement comes weeks after First Solar announced it achieved a world record in CdTe research cell efficiency of 20.4 percent.”
A second driving force is that First Solar announced that General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), via GE’s Power Conversion business, is utilizing its recently established technology and commercial partnership “to develop a more cost effective and productive utility-scale PV power plant design that combines First Solar’s thin-film CdTe modules with GE’s new ProSolar 1500 Volt inverter/transformer system.” This effort is being touted by the companies as a significant step in establishing the next generation of utility-scale PV power plants.
The third driving force may simply be a Jim Cramer tout. On CNBC, Jim Cramer said he would like to buy First Solar shares for a breakout above $62.00. At the same time, Cramer down-talked SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) right after the open as well, noting it being heavily shorted. We will leave that wave opinions up to you.
SolarCity shares traded down 3% at $74.77 after earnings, while First Solar shares were up 9% at $62.77.
The Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSEMKT: TAN) was up 1.3% at $49.51, just about 3% shy of its 52-week high of $51.07. What is interesting here is that SolarCity is more than 6.1% of the exchange traded fund’s weighting, versus a 5.16% weighting for First Solar. The market caps are about $6.3 billion for both First Solar and SolarCity.