Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are Solar Stocks Waking From the Dead?

The 'Helicopter Economics Investing Guide' is meant to help educate people on how to make profitable investing choices in the current economic environment. We have coined this term to describe the current monetary and fiscal policies of the U.S. government, which involve unprecedented money printing. This is the official blog of the New York Investing meetup.

While stocks and commodities have had spectacular rallies since last March, a few groups have been left behind. Solar stocks are one such group. While they rallied early in the year, they have been mostly flat to down since this spring, while almost everything else in the market was going up. Solar stocks hit their historical peaks between December 2007 and June 2008 (before oil peaked at $147 in July 2008). Some of them dropped more than 90% from their all-time highs until they hit lows at the end of 2008 and early this year. At the very least, they are due for a major technical rally from severely oversold levels.

How far that rally goes and whether or not it turns into something that can last longer than a few months remains to be seen. Some good fundamental news is starting to appear. JA Solar (JASO) hiked guidance on December 14th. The company now expects 2010 shipments to increase by greater than 50%. This made for a good day for solar stocks in general. JASO itself was up 16% during market trading and another 8% after hours.

While some improvement seems to be taking place in the short-term, the longer-term prospects for solar power depend on the future price of oil. Even a cursory supply and demand analysis indicates that oil will be rising in price for many years. According to an rigorous IEA (International Energy Administration) study released at the end of 2008, world production from existing wells is falling at a 6.7% annual rate. New discoveries and new wells coming on line are not keeping up with this loss, so supply is falling. At the same time, the demand destruction from the Credit Crisis is turning around. Forecasts now predict global oil demand will now be 86.3 million barrels per day in 2010, up 1. 7% from 2009. The impending supply/demand imbalance in the oil market will cause prices to rise once again, probably in the not too distant future. For the moment however oil is in a seasonally weak period which will last to around February or so and this should temporarily keep a lid on prices.

Just as solar stocks peaked before oil did, they can also start to rally before the price of oil goes up. A list of solar stocks (ticker symbols in parenthesis) that are at toward the lower end of their price range includes:

China Sunergy (CSUN)
Energy Conversion Devices (ENER)
LDK Solar (LDK)
JA Solar (JASO)
Renesola (SOL)
Suntech Power (STP)

There are also two solar power company ETFs: TAN and KWT.

If you think energy prices will be rising in the long-term, then solar stocks today are among the biggest bargains in the market. The sun should indeed be shining on them in the future.

Disclosure: Long ENER, LDK.

NEXT: Why Inflation is and Will be a Problem

Daryl Montgomery
Organizer,New York Investing meetup

This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.


scott weitzman said...

I am the creator of SolarFeeds - I would love to publish this on the site. Its a great article about solar stocks...I can add your blog as a contributor and create a profile for you like seeking alpha does..please let me know if you are interested..thanks!

scott w


Solar stock will make a comeback.