Thursday, May 3, 2012

U.S. Solar Companies Seen having Weaker Q1

TAKING THE PULSE: Solar-panel makers are projected to post weaker first-quarter results as the solar-power industry continues to struggle with uncertainty over government subsidies and fierce competition from low-priced Chinese manufacturers.

The sector has for several quarters now been hurt by a global oversupply of solar panels and cuts to renewable-energy subsidies in key European countries, resulting in weakened demand and a sharp decline in prices of solar products. These industry woes have sent shares of solar-products makers sliding over the past year. Several U.S. and European solar companies, among them Solyndra LLC, have also been forced to file for bankruptcy.

Many companies are looking to restructure their businesses and move towards new markets where they can be more competitive. In March, the U.S. Commerce Department slapped modest tariffs on imports of Chinese solar panels, giving a partial victory to solar-equipment manufacturers in the U.S., some of whom have accused Chinese rivals of dumping and obtaining unfair government subsidies. Chinese solar-panel makers such as Suntech Power Holdings Co. STP -1.84% , Trina Solar Ltd. TSL +4.41% and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. YGE -1.83% have denied the allegations in two related cases that are still pending and could lead to additional tariffs.

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