Macro environment killing solar demand: Jefferies

Lower-than-anticipated demand and pricing, coupled with funding concerns, will weigh on U.S.-listed solar companies, Jefferies said, lowering its earnings outlook and cutting its rating on at least three stocks.

Solar subsidy cuts in major solar markets Italy and Germany saw solar panel prices falling by a fifth this year, hastening bankruptcy filings by three U.S. solar companies recently.

The weakening global economy has further compounded matters.

Jefferies downgraded Trina Solar Ltd to “hold” from “buy,” Suntech Power to “underperform” from “hold,” and JA Solar Holdings to “underperform” from “hold.”

“While business conditions are slowly improving month-over-month for September, demand is below plan for most distributors and installers,” analyst Jesse Pichel wrote in a note.

“Downstream companies are surprised the market demand hasn’t spiked substantially higher given the higher rates of return a solar roof/project now enjoys (thanks to lower solar panel prices which have fallen more than subsidies).”

The analyst said Trina’s margin was pressured as the company was trying to win market share by cutting prices.

“Some companies maybe running at cost in an effort to sell. It is unclear if Tier 3 companies will continue to produce at unprofitable levels; low utilizations at cell vendors would suggest rapid capacity closures in China,” Pichel noted.

The MAC Solar companies index has tanked more than 38 percent this year.

Author: Krishna N Das
Editing: Sriraj Kalluvila



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