What happened

While investors' hunger for SolarEdge's (NASDAQ:SEDG) stock was steady in October and November -- during which the stock climbed 8% in each month -- their appetites grew larger as 2020 winded down. According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, shares of SolarEdge bounded 15% higher in December, helping the stock to lock in a 236% gain for the year.

In addition to analysts espousing bullish outlooks on the stock, investors responded to the favorable treatment that the solar industry received in the stimulus bill. 

A worker installs a solar panel on a rooftop.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Keeping pace with the market through the first eight days of December, shares of SolarEdge rose 2.5% while the S&P 500 inched 2.2% higher. Then, the analysts' actions came. On Dec. 9, Mark Strouse, an analyst at JPMorgan, boosted his price target to $315 from $239, according to Thefly.com, in addition to keeping an overweight rating on shares. The following day, Piper Sandler began coverage on SolarEdge, assigning a slightly more bullish $325 price target and overweight rating. Investors clearly took notice. After the two analysts' ratings became public, shares of SolarEdge soared 17% higher while the S&P 500 rose only 2%.

An additional catalyst for the stock's climb came in the form of the stimulus bill. Included in the sweeping legislation was a renewal of the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar power. Solar projects that begin construction in 2020 through 2022 are eligible for a 26% ITC; however, the ITC is reduced to 22% for projects that begin construction in 2023 and 10% for those that begin construction in 2024 and beyond. 

Now what

Investors should be cautious about following analysts' upgrades and price targets since they often have shorter investing timeframes than the long-term investing horizons that we favor. Nonetheless, SolarEdge's movement in December may only be the beginning. The renewable energy sector appears to be flourishing, and SolarEdge may very well be a long-term winner as it holds a market leading position.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.