Solar Sector Pounded by German Cuts, Bankruptcy (FSLR, LDK, JASO, STP, WFR, ENER, TAN)

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Shares in solar panel makers are getting a thrashing this morning on the expectation that cuts to Germany’s feed-in tariff will be more severe than previously expected. First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK), JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO), and Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP). Polysilicon and wafer provider MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. (NYSE: WFR) is also taking a hit, although it could suffer fewer effects from a German cutback.

All this follows the inevitable bankruptcy filing this morning from Energy Conversion Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: ENER). The company probably only held on this long in order to really punish investors who thought ECD would turn things around. We have more coverage here.

As for the German tariff cuts, Forbes reports that a proposal will be introduced tomorrow to cut the feed-in tariff by 15% in April and 2% a month thereafter. The proposal also includes a cap on the total amount of the subsidy.

Since January 1st, Chinese solar panel makers’ shares are up sharply, with Suntech up more than 55%, JA Solar up nearly 43%, and LDK up almost 39%. MEMC is up about 24%. First Solar is also up, but by a more modest 13%. By the time today’s session closes, these stocks could be back where they were a month ago.

At mid-morning, First Solar is trading down nearly -9% at $38.20. LDK is down nearly -8% at $5.83, JA Solar is down more than -6% at $1.92, Suntech is down more than -8% at $3.44, and MEMC is down almost -7%. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSE: TAN) is also down almost -6.5% at $3.19.

Paul Ausick