I've got to say, these solar wafer firms' reports are like night and day.

First ReneSola (NYSE:SOL) drops a bomb with its comment that its domestic (i.e., Chinese) customers are backing out of contracts. Then LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) comes along and says that everything's A-OK.

Can both of these statements be true?

Yes, I think so. It really boils down to customer mix. LDK's largely fixed-rate, take-or-pay contracts are also key, but the firm's customers wouldn't lock into such serious long-term agreements if they didn't have the staying power to ride out this pukey market.

Take the latest deal. LDK and BP's (NYSE:BP) solar division just signed a three-year, 435-megawatt contract for multicrystalline wafers. Compared to the 10-year contract with Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ), this isn't the biggest of the bunch by any means, but LDK has snagged 14 such arrangements this year alone, with other heavy hitters including Hyundai, Moser Baer, and Sumitomo. These latter companies may not trade on a U.S. exchange, but they are diversified and have real staying power.

Reader responses to my solar stock criticisms seem to suggest that I don't understand the potential growth of this industry. That's way off-base. To the winners will go tremendous spoils -- but to finish first, you must first finish.

Through careful contracting, LDK Solar looks to have secured a place for itself at the winners' table, whatever happens over the next quarter or the year. A lot of other solar pure plays simply will not make it. LDK told us that small players are closing their doors and liquidating inventories at any price -- hence the pressure on folks like JA Solar (NASDAQ:JASO). This is why I continue to urge Fools to exercise caution in this sector.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.