Short Sellers Pile On Real Goods Solar (FSLR, RSOL, SUNE)

Among U.S. solar-related stocks, First Solar FSLR, Real Goods Solar RSOL and SunEdison SUNE saw significant swings in short interest in the most recent period.

GT Advanced Technologies GTAT saw short interest in its shares grow somewhat between the July 15 and July 31 settlement dates.

Conversely, the number of shares sold short in Advanced Energy Industries AEIS, SolarCity SCTY and SunPower Holdings SPWR decreased in the final weeks of July.

Furthermore, the number of U.S.-listed shares (or ADRs) sold short of foreign-based companies JA Solar Holdings JASO, LDK Solar LDK and Suntech Power Holdings STP grew in the period.

But short interest in Canadian Solar CSIQ, China Sunergy CSUN, ReneSola SOL, Trina Solar TSL and Yingli Green Energy YGE shrank.

Here is a quick look at how First Solar, Real Goods and SunEdison have fared and what analysts expect from them.

See also: Short Sellers Return to United Continental

First Solar

Short interest in this solar energy company declined more than 17 percent to around 9.28 million shares during the period. That was the smallest number of shares sold short in at least a year, but it still represents more than 13 percent of the float. Days to cover remained at more than two.

In late July, this Tempe, Arizona-based company announced projects in New Mexico and Australia. First Solar has a market capitalization of about $4 billion. It offers no dividend. The price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is lower than the industry average, and the operating margin is higher than the industry average.

The consensus recommendation of analysts surveyed by Thomson/First Call is to hold First Solar shares, and it has been for at least three months. The current share price is above their mean price target, meaning analysts see no upside potential at this time.

The share price is more than 21 percent higher than six months ago, even after pulling back more than 14 percent in the past week. The stock has outperformed the likes of Linear Technology LLTC and Sharp, as well as the broader markets, over the past six months.

Real Goods Solar

The short interest in this solar installation services provider rose more than 25 percent to around 3.27 million shares by the end of July. The number of shares sold short has increased in the past five consecutive periods and now represents about 24 percent of the company's total float.

Real Goods Solar recently announced the acquisition of Mercury Solar Systems. The Louisville, Colorado-based company now has a market cap of near $60 million. Note that its return on equity and operating margin are both in negative territory.

Though the consensus recommendation previously had been to hold shares, no analysts have been surveyed by Thomson/First Call recently. That means there is no current mean price target. Given the stock's volatility so far this year, a consensus price target might mean little anyway.

The share price spiked more than 247 percent to a multiyear high in mid-May, but it quickly retreated. Shares have traded mostly between $2 and $3 since then. Over the past six months, the stock has underperformed competitor SolarCity but outperformed the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.


The number of shares sold short in the former MEMC Electronic Materials declined about 15 percent in the period to more than 11.58 million, or about five percent of the float. The streak of falling short interest stretches back four periods. Days to cover was about three at the end of July.

Headquartered near St. Louis, SunEdison is one of the world's largest solar installers and developers, and it has a market cap of less than $2 billion. It also remains one of the world's biggest semiconductor wafer suppliers. While it has a long-term EPS growth forecast of about 15 percent, its return on equity is in the red.

Nine of 17 analysts surveyed recommend buying shares, with three of them rating the stock at Strong Buy. Their mean price target indicates they see more than 13 percent potential upside, though it is due to the recent drop in the share price.

The share price dropped more than 23 percent last week but remains more than 114 higher year-to-date. Over the past six months, the stock still has outperformed the likes of Advanced Energy Industries and Analog Devices ADI, as well as the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

See also: Short Interest in SUPERVALU and Rite Aid Falls

At the time of this writing, the author had no position in the mentioned equities.

Posted In: Advanced Energy Industriesanalog devicescanadian solarChina Sun EnergyFirst SolarGT Advanced TechnologiesJA Solar Holdingsldk solarlinear technologyMEMC Electronic MaterialsReal Goods SolarReneSolaSolarCitySunEdisonSunPower HoldingsSuntech Power HoldingsTrina SolarWells Fargoyingli green energyShort IdeasTrading Ideas

Ad Disclosure: The rate information is obtained by Bankrate from the listed institutions. Bankrate cannot guaranty the accuracy or availability of any rates shown above. Institutions may have different rates on their own websites than those posted on The listings that appear on this page are from companies from which this website receives compensation, which may impact how, where, and in what order products appear. This table does not include all companies or all available products.

All rates are subject to change without notice and may vary depending on location. These quotes are from banks, thrifts, and credit unions, some of whom have paid for a link to their own Web site where you can find additional information. Those with a paid link are our Advertisers. Those without a paid link are listings we obtain to improve the consumer shopping experience and are not Advertisers. To receive the rate from an Advertiser, please identify yourself as a Bankrate customer. Bank and thrift deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Credit union deposits are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Consumer Satisfaction: Bankrate attempts to verify the accuracy and availability of its Advertisers' terms through its quality assurance process and requires Advertisers to agree to our Terms and Conditions and to adhere to our Quality Control Program. If you believe that you have received an inaccurate quote or are otherwise not satisfied with the services provided to you by the institution you choose, please click here.

Rate collection and criteria: Click here for more information on rate collection and criteria.