What happened

Shares of SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) rose as much as 16.9% today. While there was no company-specific news, investors appear to be reacting to favorable comments made by Enphase Energy (NASDAQ:ENPH) on the company's fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 earnings conference call

Specifically, Enphase Energy CEO Badri Kothandaraman said that he didn't expect the ongoing coronavirus epidemic in China to have a big impact on first-quarter 2020 revenue guidance. The the microinverter leader said it might have to expedite product shipping out of China with cargo planes, but it didn't foresee a component shortage on the horizon at this time.

As of 3:37 p.m. EST, the renewable energy stock had settled to a 13.7% gain.

A swarm of white paper airplanes being led by a red paper airplane.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors didn't waste any time extrapolating the comments from Enphase Energy to assume that the solar industry as a whole might be spared from the economic impact caused by China's efforts to suppress the viral epidemic. If the microinverter leader doesn't expect component shortages, then perhaps other industry players could expect the same. 

In reality, it's probably too soon to accurately assess the situation, especially on a global basis. The economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak is unknown at this time, and likely not fully visible as manufacturing and productivity delays work through the global economy. Additionally, Enphase Energy leans on a major facility in Mexico to make up for supply disruptions elsewhere. 

Nonetheless, the comments echo those made by SunPower on its full-year 2019 earnings conference call earlier this month. The distributed solar leader said it expected a "minimal impact" in the first quarter of 2020 and was working to mitigate the impact.

Now what

On the one hand, multiple companies have stated that the coronavirus outbreak in China (or more accurately, the measures taken to slow its spread) isn't expected to derail their operations at the beginning of 2020. That gives investors more confidence that statements from any individual company portray an accurate assessment of the situation.

On the other hand, companies have been careful to limit their guidance pertaining to the situation to the first quarter. Many companies had already factored the Lunar New Year into their supply and inventory decisions for the first quarter, but a prolonged slowdown could cause longer-term logistical issues. The true impact of a manufacturing slowdown in China might not be felt until the second quarter of 2020 or later.