SMA Solar Technology AG (S92), Germany’s biggest solar-energy company by market value, led a surge of European peer stocks after a higher-than-expected forecast by First Solar Inc. (FSLR:US) of the U.S. fueled optimism the industry may be emerging from a slump.
SMA climbed as much as 18 percent, the steepest intraday gain in more than three months, and was up 6.2 percent at 19.40 euros as of 11 a.m. in Frankfurt. Volume was more than twice the three-month daily average. Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar, the biggest maker of thin-film panels, gained the most on record yesterday after it said it anticipates sales as high as $4 billion this year.
“The solar industry has passed its low point and that’s benefiting stocks across the industry,” Stefan Freudenreich, an analyst at Equinet AG, said today by phone from Frankfurt. “First Solar’s impressive numbers show that its thin-film technology based solar power plants still can generate good sales volumes despite previously pessimistic market expectations.”
Solar stocks across Europe surged, with Solarworld AG (SWV), Germany’s biggest panel maker, climbing as much as 15 percent, and Munich-based Wacker Chemie AG (WCH), which supplies the industry with polysilicon, rising as much as 8.2 percent. Renewable Energy Corp ASA (REC), the Norwegian solar maker facing excess capacity and falling demand, rose as much as 13 percent in Oslo.
SMA, a Niestetal-based supplier of inverters that convert power from photovoltaic panels for use in the grid, last month predicted a “tough year” for the solar industry and said it may lose money in 2013.
This year “won’t be as bad when it comes to demand as some thought a few months ago,” said Freudenreich, who expects about 35 gigawatts of global solar installations this year. While China may not reach 10 gigawatts of installations, Japan and Europe may surprise positively, he said.
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