The Intersolar North America event was in full swing this week, and that means there's a lot of news to cover for solar manufacturers. With investors hoping a weak first half of the year turns into a strong second half, any good news would be welcome. Let's get right to it.
A peek into the second quarter
The second quarter is widely expected to be a weak one for solar manufacturers; ReneSola
The company cut its total solar wafer and module shipments to a range of 290 MW to 300 MW, from a previous expectation of 330 MW to 350 MW. Revenue expectations were also cut drastically from a range of $280 million to $300 million to a range of $235 million to $245 million. As a result, gross profit expectations fell 8%, to between 17% and 19%.
Signs of a U.S. awakening: China perks up
Yingli Green Energy
All of that adds up to an expected 15% market share for the Chinese solar manufacturer. If the U.S. can grow demand quickly in the next few years, that should be great for Yingli investors.
The solar market is also growing in China, where LDK Solar
New products hit the market
Suntech also increased its limited warranty from five years to 10, hopefully a sign that the company has increased confidence in its products.
ReneSola also said it is shipping the new Virtus wafers and modules, which have cell efficiency rates of 17.5% to 18.2% for the high-end cells. This continues Chinese manufacturers' renewed focus on efficiency in an effort to catch up to industry leader SunPower
Last and maybe most notable is the announcement from United Solar, a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices
Foolish bottom line
Until we start hearing from management just how the second half of 2011 is shaping up, it's going to be hard for solar stocks to get out of their funk. But for now solar investors can take comfort in the fact that manufacturers are slowly and steadily improving products and seeing improving conditions in important markets like China and the U.S.