Anyone who's read my coverage of the solar space knows that I'm pretty uneasy when it comes to nondiversified, emerging solar players. The swift kick to solar stocks like ReneSola (NYSE:SOL) and Solarfun Power (NASDAQ:SOLF) has justified some of that caution.

I've been tentative in my coverage of Trina Solar (NYSE:TSL) as well. Last Thanksgiving season, I found the company's plan to push into polysilicon production unappetizing. That plan was later scrapped -- a decidedly good move. Leaving this capital-intensive endeavor to folks like LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) did Trina's balance sheet a great favor. Now that we see credit markets snapping shut and spot polysilicon prices plunging, the decision looks even smarter.

With the latest quarterly report, I'm beginning to think these guys just might have what it takes to survive the great solar shakeout. I liked a lot of what I heard, so let me rattle off a few highlights:

  • Positive cash flow from operations, as promised last quarter.
  • An unlikely need to tap the capital markets in 2009.
  • An improved cash collection cycle, as evidenced by significantly lower days-sales-outstanding.

Sure, there was the usual explosive growth. After all, Trina is working off of a much smaller base than big boys like Suntech Power (NYSE:STP). But the items above are the sort of thing that really grabs my eye, and I humbly suggest that other Fools focus on the cash flow as we fumble our way through these tough times.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Suntech Power is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Motley Fool has a sunny disclosure policy.