Top 5 Solar Stocks by Market Cap

Solar investing has been a highly contended subject for many years now. Some feel that it is a strong allocation for a long-term portfolio as the growth in the alternative energy world offers some enticing opportunities. Others need only point to the historically abysmal returns of the majority of these securities to justify their reasoning for avoidance. For those who do feel that solar is a good long term play, or are at least interested in researching further into this energy source, we outline the five biggest solar companies by market cap [for more solar news and analysis subscribe to our free newsletter].

First Solar (FSLR)

Quick Stats as of (9/14/2012)

  • Market Cap: $2.12 billion
  • EPS: -6.41
  • Avg Vol: 6.9 million
  • Beta: 1.71

This American company was once hailed as one of the best solar stocks in the business, as it had superb cash management and seemed impervious to markets. Then, of course, the recession took its stock price for a ride, as FSLR has lost approximately 90% since hitting its pre-recession high. That could mean a good buying opportunity, but its EPS of -6.4 (standard for most solar stocks) is less than encouraging. The firm has a total market cap of $2.1 billion and trades and average of 6.9 million times per day.

Trina Solar Limited (TSL)

Quick Stats as of (9/14/2012)

  • Market Cap: $311 million
  • EPS: -3.23
  • Avg Vol: 1.6 million
  • Beta: 2.92

A Chinese company that has its hands in nearly every facet of developing photovoltaic modules. Unlike FSLR, this stock was able to regain lost ground from the recession through 2011, but fell prey to a major fallout that struck the entire solar world. Since peaking early last year, the stock is down about 85% while exhibiting a beta of roughly 2.92 along the way. Those looking for a buying opportunity may be warded off by the EPS of -3.2, but it should be noted that Chinese solar firms generally receive more government benfits than American ones. TSL has a market cap of $311 million and an average daily volume of 1.6 million [see also Why Alternative Energy Will Never Become Widespread (In Our Lifetime)].

Yingli Green Energy (YGE)

Quick Stats as of (9/14/2012)

  • Market Cap: $292 million
  • EPS: -4.86
  • Avg Vol: 1.6 million
  • Beta: 2.56

With a total market cap of $292 million, YGE comes in third place on the list. Another Chinese company, Yingli has had a tough time since its pre-recession highs, dipping nearly 95%. Of course, with fundamentals like an EPS of -4.9 and a -56% ROE, it is not surprising to see the stock struggle (it should be noted that unfortunate figures like this can be found in every company on this list). About 4% of all YGE shares are held short and 20% are held by institutions.

Suntech Power Holdings (STP)

Quick Stats as of (9/14/2012)

  • Market Cap: $160 million
  • EPS: -6.55
  • Avg Vol: 1.7 million
  • Beta: 3.26

A company based in, you guessed it, China. The firm offers both monocrystalline and multicrystalline modules that are sold and used in dozens of countries around the world. The firm has a market cap of $160 million and an EPS of -6.5 and is easily the worst performer on the list. Since topping out near $80 prior to the recession, the stock has sank by more than 98% as it broke into penny stock territory.

Canadian Solar (CSIQ)

Quick Stats as of (9/14/2012)

  • Market Cap: $130 million
  • EPS: -3.49
  • Avg Vol: 400,000
  • Beta: 3.09

Moving back to North America, this company calls Guelph, Ontario home. Unfortunately, a different continent does not conjur better fundamentals, as the company as an EPS of -3.5 and a quarterly revenue growth (yoy) of nearly 28%. Top that off with a debt/equity ratio of over 240, and you’ve got yourself a very risky stock. The firm has a market cap of $30 million while trading just under 400,000 shares per day [see also Why The Solar ETF (KWT) Is Up 1,400% Today].

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Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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