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Chinese Solar Companies In Trouble

Courtesy of Jay Yarow.  Jay covers green tech for The Business Insider - the Green Sheet.

Chinese Solar Companies In Trouble (STP, SOLA, LDK)

Even with billions in subsidies to float the Chinese solar industry there is considerable worry amongst investors:

  • Suntech (STP) investors concerned about customer relationship
  • Suntech shares fall 15 percent
  • Renesola (SOLA) cuts 2009 revenue view, stock down 11.6 pct
  • LDK (LDK) sees thin margins until market improves

By Matt Daily and Nichola Groom, Reuters – Chinese solar companies Suntech Power Holdings Inc, ReneSola Ltd and LDK Solar gave gloomy outlooks on Thursday as the credit crisis chokes off funding for renewable energy projects, and their shares fell sharply.

Solar manufacturers have been hit by the sharp decline in prices for photovoltaic products because the credit crunch is forcing new projects to be put on hold at the same time that new supplies are coming on the market.

Suntech, China’s largest solar panel maker, reported a surprise quarterly profit but disappointed investors when it revealed that Global Solar Fund, a customer in which it has a majority stake, accounted for more than 30 percent of first-quarter sales. Its shares fell 15 percent.

Global Solar Fund invests in companies that will own or develop solar projects, Suntech said.

"Suntech selling to a company that in turn sells to related companies can result in channel stuffing/earnings ‘massaging,’" Oppenheimer analyst Sam Dubinsky, who has an "underperform" rating on Suntech shares, said in a client note.

Suntech — based in Wuxi, China — also cut its shipment forecast for the year and said it will issue 20 million new shares, a move that will dilute its earnings per share. [ID:nBNG24881]

Renesola posted a first-quarter net loss and cut its revenue forecast for the year. Shares of the London-listed company fell 11.6 percent to 111 pence [ID:nLL951681].

LDK, which makes solar wafers, reported a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss and declined to update its revenue forecast for the year, citing limited visibility. [ID:nN213015061]

LDK shares fell 6.2 percent in extended trade, however, after the company said margins would remain thin as prices on its products continue their fall and remain in line with its polysilicon and other costs.

"They just don’t have any margin, and it’s hard to see how they are going to get any margin in the next couple of quarters," said Soleil Securities analyst Paul Leming, who has a "sell" rating on LDK shares. "The external environment has to improve dramatically for you to make an argument that LDK is going to start performing substantially better."

Thursday’s results from Suntech, Renesola and LDK join the raft of dour announcements from rival solar companies in the last few weeks.

On Tuesday, China’s JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd (JASO.O) posted a larger-than-expected quarterly loss and said it would miss its 2009 revenue target, while earlier this month Germany’s Q-Cells SE (QCEG.DE) cut its sales outlook for the third time since December.

Solar makers are hoping that U.S. stimulus measures approved earlier this year will allow new projects to get under way and give financial players more confidence in the sector.

Analysts, however, were split on whether there were yet any reasons for optimism…  More here.

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