Despite more carnage in the overall market, shares of First Solar (FSLR) managed to find their way into the green column, aided by news that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the 550MW Desert Sunlight solar farm, which would be the largest solar plant ever constructed on public land. First Solar said the approval is a major milestone and clears the way for construction to begin this month just east of Palm Springs. The plant is expected to power up to 165,000 homes and create hundreds of jobs.
Several weeks ago, news broke that the DOE would award loans for a few FSLR projects including Desert Sunlight, so it’s no surprise the final hurdle has been cleared. When those loans were first approved, I believed the bottom was in on FSLR. Obviously that wasn’t a good call as the stock took out the $120 level and is now testing the next level of support at the $100 level, but I liked the stock at $120 and I like it even more at $100. There is a lot to like.
Jefferies agrees. The firm has upgraded the stock from Hold to Buy and raised the price target from $115 to $132. The firm notes that the company has the lowest cost per watt, the lowest cost of capital due to the DOE loans, the best balance sheet and the best liquidity.
Adding to the good news, it was announced late last week that NRG completed the acquisition for the Agua Caliente project first announced in Dec. 2010.
As mentioned above, the $100 level is critical for FSLR. It’s an area that has been tested several times over the past three years, successfully holding each time. I see the stock holding again as long as the market doesn’t continue to fall off a cliff. If it looks like a test of the March 2009 lows in the overall market are coming, all bets are off.