Signs Of The Times: Can Solar Sustain First Quarter Showing?


Solar companies rallied in the first quarter of the year,

posting increased revenues compared with last year.

But the industry’s future remains uncertain as it continues to face old concerns affecting growth.

An early review of solar companies’ first quarter financial reports shows significant year-on-year revenue increases. Surging ahead are companies such as United States’ solar panel producer SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq:SPWRAand SPWRB), China’s Suntech Power Holdings (NYSE:STP), the world’s largest producer of crystalline PV modules, and Germany’s PV modules manufacturer Solon S.E. (FWB:SOO1) whose first quarter revenues shot up by 63.68 percent, 83.72 percent and 132 percent respectively.
Solar companies made a splash in the first quarter, without a doubt, but looking into their profitability gives a muddled picture.

United States-based MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. (NYSE:WFR), a major industry player whose own solar revenues increased by 1.5 percent at $157.7 million in the first quarter, experienced a drastic decline in profits on a yearly and quarterly basis. The solar business of the wafer company earned only $12.2 million from $67.8 million last year, marking an 82 percent drop.
Companies such as world solar PV cells manufacturer Q-Cells S.E. (FWB:QCE) and fellow German company Solon, meanwhile, were only able to improve over losses incurred in the first quarter of 2009.