Here's a solution for investors who find themselves tossing and turning at night: Just count solar IPOs. We're three weeks into June and at least three companies have listed shares. I'll try to shed some light on the latest entrants in the sun dance.
Solaria Energia SA went public in home country Spain, and the company's shares popped 25% in its trading debut. From carbon trading to wind power to biogas, Europe is really looking like the go-to place for alternative energy companies to list their shares these days. This particular company sported a 29.4% profit margin last year, which outshines the likes of Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL ) and Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick Suntech Power (NYSE: STP ) . We'll see how public company costs weigh on that margin, but for now the company's prospects appear quite bright. It certainly doesn't hurt that the Spanish government recently shifted its subsidies away from wind power and toward biomass and solar.
PV Crystalox Solar chose to IPO in London, and it is the largest solar company listed on the London Stock Exchange. The firm reports five consecutive years of profitability, with a threefold growth in sales and expanded margins over that period. Pre-tax profits were up 56% last year. Rather than producing photovoltaic panels, as SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWR ) does, Crystalox produces multicrystalline silicon wafers and ingots. That puts it more in line with MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE: WFR ) , another waferista that has been serving up healthy profits for several years now.
Finally, there's Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE ) , a Chinese firm that chose to list depositary shares in the U.S. of A. Yingli sports a narrower profit margin of 10.7%, but I'll take that over the negative margins of Evergreen Solar (Nasdaq: ESLR ) any day of the week. Any of my initial enthusiasm for this company waned, however, when I spotted the huge discrepancy between net income and cash flow from operations. I really can't stomach the cash burn here, especially when there are solar players out there whose operations are throwing off GAAP profits and positive cash flows.
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