The clean out in the solar-power sector continued on Friday, with Hawaii-based Hoku (HOKU) and Germany's Conergy filing for for liquidation. Hoku filed for Chapter 7 after being unable to attract the money to complete a $700M polysilicon plant following a plunge in prices for the material, which is used in solar panels, due to oversupply. Conergy was once Europe's largest solar company.
The U.S. government has imposed anti-dumping duties of 31%-250% on Chinese solar imports, a source tells Bloomberg. The duties are the result of an investigation into whether Chinese firms, backed by government subsidies, have been selling modules below cost to drive out competition. First Solar (FSLR +7.2%) and SunPower (SPWR +13.6% - previous) are rallying on the news, while some (though not all) Chinese vendors are selling off: YGE -11.8%. HOKU -8.8%. LDK -3.9%.
Canadian Solar (CSIQ +7.2%) has given back a chunk of the premarket gains it saw on a report CNOOC (CEO) is in talks to acquire the firm. Other Chinese solar names have given back most or all of their early gains: TSL -2.1%. YGE -2.9%. JASO +1.5%. HOKU +0.9%. Past remarks from the Chinese government have already led many to expect consolidation, and some fear a bit of M&A activity won't be enough to fix the solar industry's huge problems.
Though its solar policies are facing close scrutiny from the U.S. ITC, a Chinese government agency has set ambitious targets for the development of the local solar industry. By 2015, it wants one local firm to have annual revenues north of $16B, and 3-5 firms to have revenues above $8B. Consider this more evidence the government may soon "encourage" weaker solar vendors to merge with stronger ones. (also)
A Commerce Department investigation into the business practices of Chinese solar firms has unsurprisingly found many to be selling their products below cost. Less clear is whether such pricing is the result of anti-competitive behavior, or simply an attempt to unload inventory in the face of oversupply and crashing prices. Regardless, the findings could pave the way for anti-dumping tariffs to be imposed.