Yesterday was the second day in a week that solar stocks performed their own solar flare, and this Fool is starting to see sunspots. First Solar
It's not Europe, it's Germany
Germany, solar's most important market, recently announced it would be lowering feed-in tariff rates by 15% next year. That might not sound like something that would drive solar stocks higher, but Germany said that 5.2 gigawatts have been installed through Sept. 30, and there will likely be a flood of new solar installed between now and the end of the year before the reduction hits.
Germany has the ability to ramp up installations faster than any other country, and with a big feed-in tariff reduction on the horizon, installers will be working overtime. That's great in the short-term as everyone from Trina Solar
But what's good today may not be good tomorrow. I've applauded Germany's transparent and pre-scheduled feed-in tariff reductions based on installation levels, but this could hurt in 2012. If installations fall off a cliff in the first quarter of 2012 like they did in the second and third quarters of this year, then we could see another up-and-down reaction from the market. But maybe I should just be happy that the short-term doesn't look as disastrous as it could be?
Of course, it could be the case that Chinese manufacturers continue dumping modules at dirt cheap prices and Germany continues to install massive amounts of solar next year.
Hanging on for dear life
This week has shown just how wildly the market can react to any news about the solar industry. When First Solar's CEO was let go, the stock crashed, only to recover most of what it lost in the next two days partly because the company released decent earnings a week early.
The bottom line for investors in solar is that opportunities are out there if you're willing to understand the risks and wait out the storms these stocks go through. SunPower has long been my top pick and with uncertainty at First Solar, and Chinese manufacturers fighting each other to stay alive, that pick holds true today.
For those patient enough to invest in the rough times, it's weeks like this, when solar stocks catch fire, that make it all worth it.
Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of First Solar and SunPower. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.
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