This Week in Solar

Solar stocks had another good week and expectations are increasing up as we head toward earnings season.

Jan 19, 2014 at 2:30PM

Solar stocks traded mostly higher this past week as we move into earnings season. SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) led the industry after announcing a crowd-funding platform, and there's also a lot of optimism that margins will rise enough for strong solar manufacturers to be profitable this year.

SCTY Total Return Price Chart

SCTY Total Return Price data by YCharts

Here are the highlights from the week in solar.

SolarCity looks to crowd-funding for financing
SolarCity continues to open new financing sources, and just two months after completing the first distributed solar securitization deal, it's looking to get into crowd funding. The company announced that it will develop an online platform that will allow individuals, small businesses, and other investors to participate in solar by providing debt to a pool of solar assets.

Right now, SolarCity is short on details of how the platform will work, how products will be structured, or who exactly can participate. The product is intended to broaden the number of people participating in solar and expand the pool of investors SolarCity can draw financing from. Expect the marketplace to be opened in the first half of the year. At that point we'll know more about whether this will help the company lower its cost of capital, which is how this product could really add value to shareholders.

Yingli predicts a profit
Yingli Green Energy
's (NYSE:YGE) management predicted it could make a profit by the second quarter of this year. The company has struggled making enough money to pay for $2.6 billion in debt and still make a profit, but the industry is turning a corner, and manufacturers are seeing margins rise.  

If Yingli can make a profit, it's likely that most top-tier Chinese manufacturers will also make money in 2014. The bigger challenge will be having enough money to invest in the next generation of solar manufacturing capacity, but making a profit is a step in the right direction.

News and notes
Here are some other news items from around the industry that weren't big headlines.

  • Hanwha SolarOne (NASDAQ:HQCL) signed a memorandum of understanding with Shanghai HuiTianRan Investment Holding Group to develop projects in China. The company's modules would be used in 700 MW of power plant projects and potentially provide other services as well. A final agreement is expected in the next 60 days.  
  • ReneSola (NYSE:SOL) said it will provide 32 MW of modules to Isolux Corsan Servicios for power plants in the U.K.  
  • Another financial company jumped into solar this week, when John Hancock Life Insurance said it is joining Libra Group in a $40 million solar equity fund. Having more companies interested in financing solar will bring costs down for the industry and help push demand higher.

Check fool.com for more solar coverage, especially as companies begin announcing earnings in the next few weeks.

A great stock pick for your portfolio
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Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of SolarCity. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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