The Solar index increased 1.8% bringing the YTD decline for the sector to –41.5%. LDK Solar Co. LTD (LDK), which fell 21.3 % last week, led all stocks in the index with a 16.3% increase. Most of this gain happened Thursday and Friday after the company’s press release reported it had sold 100% of its 2008 production and 90% of 2009. The communication also shed some light on the inventory issue. This strong sales picture may be supportive of the view that demand for PV product hasn’t been affected much by larger economic concerns. Overall the sector had 19 stocks climbing and 14 stocks falling.
Biofuels experienced a 1.9% decline with 6 stocks rising and 10 stocks falling. Gushan (GU) was the leader ,recovering 7.5% after last week's 24.9% decline. On the declining side, Schmack Biogas [SB1.DE] led the field with a 11.6% decrease. This may be a delayed reaction to the company’s 2/26 release of 2007 results where strong sales growth (47% !) was coupled with a wider than expected loss.
VeraSun (VSE) and US BioEnergy (USBE) also suffered steep declines after VeraSun reported on Wednesday that ethanol prices weren’t increasing as fast as corn costs. Getting bigger with the merger isn’t going to change that equation.In the Renewable Electricity sector Camino’s index retreated 0.5% with 8 stocks climbing and 11 retreating. Geodynamics Ltd. led the pack with a 17.2% decline. The only news we found was an ASX note on 3/11 that a flow test had been delayed until 3/14. Fuel Cells had another down week with the index decreasing 3.2% on 3 stocks advancing and 4 stocks declining. ITM Power suffered a 25.2% decline. On Feb 5 Citigroup (NYSE:C) criticized the company’s unfocused business strategy and apparently the company’s 3/14 announcement of a testing contract with Bi-Fuels did little to sharpen the strategy.
What did I learn this week? Traders are listening carefully to company communications and are very quick to take decisive action on news, both positive and negative. I also think LDK’s order news may be significant as a bell weather for overall demand in the solar sector.
Disclosure: Author holds a position in Geodynamics [GDY.AX] .