Solar in 2010: Better or Worse?

Is the solar industry heading into a recovery in 2010? Or will the oversupply of solar modules that helped make 2009 such a challenging year for most solar companies drag on another year? As the new year approaches, the outlook seems as unclear as ever.

On Monday, the bull camp won over a few more converts. JA Solar (s jaso) raised its guidance for the fourth quarter of 2009, expecting solar shipments to exceed 210 megawatts, compared with its previous estimate of shipments between 170 megawatts and 200 megawatts, thanks to “robust orders” from new and existing customers.

For all of 2010, JA said shipments would increase more than 60 percent to between 750 megawatts and 800 megawatts. JA Solar’s stock, which rose 16 percent during market hours (before the announcement), was up another 6 percent in after hours trading to $5.64.
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Congress Bickers, Solar Stocks Crumble

The failed passage of a financial bailout bill has taken a harsh toll on most corners of the stock market, but few sectors saw steeper one-day declines Monday than solar stocks. That’s largely because there was a second piece of bad news coming from Congress that had special meaning for the solar industry.

Much like the bailout debacle, the House of Representatives and the Senate can’t find agreement on how to extend energy tax credits that are key to a more mainstream embracing of solar panels among businesses and homeowners. Incentives such as tax credits and subsidies are crucial to lowering the costs of solar power to make it competitive enough to reach a large scale.

The perception that Congress had been dragging its feet was a big factor in driving down solar-stock prices this year. Now legislators are taking action, but the arguing and sniping from both houses is threatening to delay a bill possibly into early 2009. More details on the political deadlock can be found at Congressional Quarterly and Bloomberg.
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Trina, Unloved Child, Can Do No Right

Lots of children grow up with disapproving parents — the unloved child is the staple of TV and movie dramas. That movie-of-the-week cliche is now playing out on the U.S. stock market, where Trina Solar (TSL) saw its earnings more than double. Trina’s net profit for the second quarter was $17.1 million, or 68 cents per American depository share, which in light of the $7.4 million, or 32 cents per ADS a year ago, is exactly the kind of earnings performance that a lot of companies in the banking, consumer goods and most other sectors would spill blood (maybe even their own) to have right now.

The stock market’s response? Trina’s shares, which bumped up as high at $32.43, or 4.7 percent above their close on Friday, slumped down to end Monday at $30.14 — down 3 percent after all was said and done.

What are the parental investors waiting to see before they start applauding their approval? In short, they’re tired of being disappointed because of their own outsize expectations. Last year, solar stocks could do no wrong. This year, it’s the opposite. Earnings not quadrupling, or even tripling? It seems if you’re not inflating a new bubble, it’s an occasion for shame.
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Cool iPhone apps at the App Store

OK, the new App Store on iTunes is definitely a huge time sink for me this morning but I just have to go through it and see what programs are already there.  I’ve already mentioned eReader and Pandora but I’m finding some other really cool and useful programs the longer I play around with it:


Best mobile note-taking app around!


Speak your mind.


Gotta get me some New York Times!

OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

UPDATE: TypePad Mobile is there too.  🙂


A Boom and Bust Cycle for Solar: Is SunPower In Trouble?

Just nine days into the new year, SunPower has already come out with what should be viewed as positive news — so why has its stock stumbled? The company has unveiled construction plans and a financing deal with GE Energy Financial Services, yet its shares have slumped 20 percent since the first trading day of 2008. But SunPower is not alone. Other solar companies, especially many of the newly public Chinese firms such as Trina Solar, Yingli Green Energy and Solarfun Power Holdings, have seen their stocks fall as well.
We’re thinking solar is about to swing into one of those boom-and-bust cycles, familiar to those in the housing or semiconductor industries, and investors should expect more volatility ahead. As in those industries, building solar cells is a big, capital intensive business and economies of scale are the primary way to make money. When demand starts to fall or there’s too much supply, it takes a while to adjust the course. It’s about time for solar to begin its adjustment.
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Karina’s Capsule: Hey Josh

When I first heard about Hey Josh, a weekly show billed as “a three minute advice video podcast for teenagers,” I mentally classified it alongside what Ryan Fitzgerald (otherwise known as The Guy Who Gave Out His Phone Number On YouTube) has been doing: both seemed like experiments in using online video as a catalyst for peer therapy.

At the time (obviously, I guess), I knew nothing about Hey Josh‘s producer/host, twenty-something self-help guru Josh Shipp (who, incidentally, made it to the semi-finals of one of Valleywag‘s vlogger hotness contests); I certainly didn’t know that Hey Josh was essentially a teaser for the paid services of the hipster Dr. Phil.

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8K iTunes songs per month costs…1 fiancĂ©e

At the 2004 Macworld San Francisco keynote, while recounting the success of the iTunes Music Store since its inception nine months ago, Steve Jobs noted that the top spender on iTunes had spent $29,500.

While reaction probably ranged from shock (‘Surely some kid just accidentally hit the Buy Song button thinking it was the preview button!’) to envy (‘I wish I made that much money in nine months’) to nerdy (‘How many tracks is that per day, assuming some are album purchases?’), very few probably thought ‘That guy’s fiancĂ©e will dump him when she finds out.’

But when Entertainment Weekly writer Dalton Ross asked readers of his blog to write in and nominate their most embarrassing DVD purchase, he got a response from a Susan P. who noted:

I used to wonder how my husband-to-be had more than 700 music CDs and more than 300 movie DVDs and hundreds and hundreds of record albums until I discovered that he had $43,000 in credit-card debt. In looking at his last bill (for one month) he had charged more than 8,000 iTunes at 99 cents each and had charges at places that sell music and movies, too. This guy made $45,000 a year. Called off the wedding.

Was Susan P. engaged to the mysterious “top iTunes spender” Steve Jobs noted in that 2004 keynote? Or are there two insane iTunes spenders out there? If Susan’s fiancĂ© bought more than 8,000 iTunes songs every month, he would actually beat out mysterious keynote guy’s total in four months.

Or maybe it was Dalton Ross himself:

Fine, Susan! Can you get over it already? I told you, I’m working off the debt as fast as I can! If you think outing me in some lame Internet column is gonna help the situation, well, you’re just plain wrong, and that’s just plain mean. I thought we were past all this.

P.S. Will you take me back? Readers confess the embarrassing DVDs they own

EVDO ExpressCard from Novatel

Novatel_merlin_evdoI hope that Origami OEMs will start putting ExpressCard slots in the devices now that Novatel is soon to release their Merlin EVDO card.  The small ExpressCard slot is tailor-made for the Origami and having EVDO on the portable would be oh so sweet.  Surprisingly Novatel only has Windows drivers currently even though the only devices with ExpressCard slots are Macs.  No word on pricing nor availability dates.

(via engadget)