Short Sellers Waver on Solar, Alt Energy Stocks

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Short interest moves among solar and alternative energy stocks were mixed during the two-week reporting period that ended on May 31. In the solar sector two of four companies we watch saw short interest rise, and three of four alt energy stocks saw a decrease in short interest during the period.

As prices come down for rooftop solar PV installations, the old leasing (power-purchase agreement) model is losing customers who now find that getting a loan is more cost effective and gives them ownership of the solar system once the loan is paid off. Among other things, a 20-year lease can be a little tricky to sell if the current homeowner wants to move. This is not such good news for big installers or module makers that don’t have agreements in place with small, local installers who are typically cheaper than the big boys.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) saw short interest soar by 48.1% to 7.82 million shares, which represents 10.4% of the company’s float. Days to cover rose from two to four. In the two-week short interest period, the stock’s share price rose by about 1.1%. The stock’s 52-week range is $40.25 to $74.29, and it closed at $50.45 on Thursday, down nearly 1% for the day.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) short interest rose by 3.9% to 15.37 million shares, or 26.3% of the company’s float. In the two-week period to May 31, the share price fell by 21%. The stock’s 52-week range is $15.15 to $33.29 and it closed at $16.85 on Thursday, down about 3% for the day. Days to cover rose from five to seven.

SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) saw short interest fall by 6.8% to 20.08 million shares, 41.4% of the company’s total float. Days to cover increased from two to five. In the two-week short interest period, the share price rose by 18.3%. The stock’s 52-week range is $16.31 to $61.72, and shares closed at $22.66 on Thursday, down about 1.8% for the day.

Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) saw a drop of 9.7% in short interest during the two weeks. Some 15% of the total float, 6.63 million shares, were short, and days to cover rose from two to four. The company’s share price rose about 9.6% over the period. Shares closed Thursday at $17.89, down about 1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $14.16 to $33.65.

FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) posted a decrease of 4.4% in short interest during the two-week period. Some 3.6 million shares were short as of May 31. The stock closed at $6.12 on Thursday, down about 16.6% for the day, in a 52-week range of $4.51 to $13.32. Shares added about 30.6% in the short interest period, and days to cover rose from six to seven. The company reported second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, posting a larger-than-expected loss and dragging the other alt energy stocks down with it.

Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG) saw short interest decrease by 2% to 28.99 million shares. Days to cover rose from 20 to 24, and about 16.2% of the company’s shares were short. In the two weeks to May 31, the stock’s share price rose by about 6.7%. The stock’s 52-week range is $1.30 to $2.98, and shares closed most recently at $1.85, down about 3.7% for the day.

Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (NASDAQ: CLNE) saw a drop of 7% in short interest to 8.26 million shares. About 9.7% of the company’s float is short, and days to cover rose from four to five. Shares rose by about 3.8% in the two-week period. The stock closed at $3.64, down about 4.5%, on Thursday in a 52-week range of $2.15 to $7.93.

Pacific Ethanol Inc. (NASDAQ: PEIX) saw short interest rise by 15.1% in the two-week period to 4.56 million shares, about 12.3% of the company’s float. Days to cover fell from seven to five. The stock price skyrocketed by nearly 46% in the two weeks to May 31. Shares closed at $6.01 on Thursday, down about 4.9% on the day, in a 52-week range of $2.41 to $11.25.