So, what exactly is involved in calculating solar panels cost in Bay Terraces? When thinking about solar power very few people know the way the cost of solar panel systems is actually measured. Or even, for that matter, do we automatically grasp the connection relating to the cost of solar power and the value of solar power. We all know that gasoline prices are in dollars per gallon. We likewise are all aware of approximately how far we’ll be able to drive after spending 40 bucks for a tank of gas. In contrast to a tank of gas, the value of which can be consumed pretty much instantly, solar panels deliver their value across a period of time.
Bay Terraces 3 Undervalued Solar Leaders
SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) is a global solar energy solutions provider. It operates in the specialized semiconductor industry and was incorporated in 1985. It is headquartered in San Jose, California and has offices in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. The company's operating activities include designing, manufacturing and supplying solar panels and solar systems to a wide range of clients. SunPower's customers range from residential to utility customers, including businesses and the government. The company also offers different products related to solar systems that include inverters and control chargers. SunPower Corporation reports its revenues based on geographical segmentation. The company generates about 70% of its revenue from America, 20% from EMEA (Europe) and 10% from APAC (Asia Pacific). The revenues from Europe and Asia have been decreasing over the years partly because of the growing American demand and partly because of the recent economic conditions of Europe. NRG Solar is a significant customer of the company, being responsible for 35% of the revenue generated from America or in aggregate terms 24.5% of the entire revenue. SunPower is backed by Total S. A., the fifth largest publicly-traded energy company in the world. Total has a controlling interest in the company and holds around 66% shares of SunPower.
SunPower Corporation is listed on NASDAQ and is currently trading around $30. 2013 proved to be a good year for the company as far as market performance is concerned. Shares of the company appreciated consistently during the year. In the first week of January, shares were trading at around $6 but now they are touching $30. The solar industry has been facing difficulty in the past two years but now it seems that the market is regaining confidence in the solar industry.
EPS of the company also improved during 2013 which caused the share price to increase. Revenues have also been improving over time and SunPower has posted a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4.95% since December 2011. These growing financial figures were responsible for the positive trend of the share price.
It appears that the solar industry is starting to recover. The recent years have been rough, especially for American solar businesses because of the dumping exercises carried out by China. The subsidizing of solar companies by the government of China enabled them to sell below their production costs. This forced the American companies to cut prices and suffer losses. Oversupply in the industry was also a major factor in the reduction of prices and diminished earnings. The sales of Chinese solar firms in Europe are capped now due to limitations imposed by the European Union. Once the US and Europe have settled the Chinese solar panel issue, profits in the industry will begin to grow. Furthermore, China has banned the construction of any further solar panel factories. All these developments enhanced the investor's confidence in the solar industry which in turn is reflected in the market performance of the American solar companies. "We're at a point now where demand starts to be driven by cold, hard economics rather than by subsidies and that is a game changer," says Jason Channell of Citigroup.
The solar industry is poised for future growth. According to IEA, renewable electricity will surpass output from natural gas and double the generation from nuclear plants by 2016; becoming the second most important source of energy after coal. It is worth noting that the growth of renewable energy has always been underestimated in projections. For instance, in 2003, IEA predicted that non-hydro renewable energy would represent 4% of the global generation by 2030 but the industry reached that figure in 2003. According to BNEF, renewable energy will account for around 69-74% of new capacity added by 2030. Estimates by HIS predict the global PV (photovoltaic) market to grow by 17% in 2014. All of this points toward the fact that the solar industry will grow in the future.
BNEF also projects a 20% increase in PV installations by 2017. The emerging markets are USA, China and Japan, accounting for 52% of the solar demand in 2013 compared to 13% in 2008. Overall, the industry is set for growth but the question is, on whose expense? China and the US are the two main competitors in this industry. The relative strategies and actions of their governments could affect the companies based in both countries.
Global Production Leader
China is the largest supplier of PV modules. It plans to add 10 GW of solar capacity to the system each year until 2015, aiming for 35GW by 2015. The current capacity is 5GW. Chinese companies like Trina Solar, Yingli Solar and Hanergy have low production costs and are offered subsidies by the government. Therefore, they manage to compete on very low costs, rendering the US based suppliers unprofitable.
The excess production and oversupply of solar panels by Chinese manufacturers reduced the price margins in the industry. This oversupply has been adversely affecting the global solar industry for the past few years. The capping of Chinese solar panels by the EU and the restriction of the Chinese government on the establishment of new solar panel installations has helped in improving the conditions of the industry globally. This, however, presents a problem for the American solar companies because the Chinese suppliers are likely to converge upon the attractive US market. This development could pose a serious hindrance to the growth of US based companies. China still produces the cheapest cells and the efficiency of the cells is also competitive. American companies need to find a way to produce cost effective cells to counter China's competitive advantage. To encourage competition, The U.S. Commerce Department set anti-dumping duties ranging from 18.32% to 249.96% on solar-energy cells imported from China in 2012. This provides a level playing field as far as the American market is concerned. In Europe, the market is equally competitive for both US and Chinese firms because China's sales have been capped. In Asia, as expected, Chinese companies have a clear advantage over their American counterparts.
Residential Leasing Program
SunPower's leasing program is a competitive advantage for the company, as it allows the consumers to install their energy systems without paying all charges upfront. Consumers can save up to 10% or 15% on their electricity bill and be eco-friendly at the same time. SunPower is trying to bridge the gap further by lowering the costs of the system and improving the efficiency. It is aiming to enhance efficiency by 10% and reduce panel costs by 35% in 2015. The residential lease program has attracted 16,200 customers since 2012. "Our residential lease business remains strong, with demand outstripping our financial capacity in the first quarter," said Tom Werner, SunPower's CEO, during a call with analysts to discuss quarterly earnings. The company has been fuelling its finance requirements from Citi, Credit Suisse and recently from US Bancorp. These leases are a competitive advantage for SunPower because they help in reducing the overall energy costs of the consumer.
Maxeon cells that are being manufactured by SunPower are the most efficient cells to date. They are 24% efficient. Provided the company manages to reduce the production cost of the cell, they would be every one's first choice.
SunPower's Oasis C7 is a solar photovoltaic tracking system that concentrates the sun's power seven times to achieve the lowest levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for utility-scale solar power plants.
The leading technologies offered by SunPower are its differentiated strength and can help the company to grow.
Research and Development
SunPower is involved in research with King Abdullah University and the French Laboratory of Interfaces of Physics and Thin Films. Total S. A. is also working in solar R&D which could also benefit SunPower. Total is working in collaboration with:
LAAS: (Laboratory for Systems Analysis and Architecture - Toulouse, France) to enhance the efficiency of photovoltaic modules using a systemic approach.
IMEC: (Interuniversity Micro Electronics Center - Louvain, Belgium) to decrease the amount of silicon needed for cells and improve their efficiency
LPICM: (Interface and Thin Film Physics Laboratory - Saclay, France), a joint research facility of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Ecole Polytechnique's engineering school with a combined team working on crystalline silicon thin film technology.
SunPower's exposure to extensive R&D is reflected in its technologically advanced products.
P/E ratio of the company stands at 26.8x and PEG ratio at 0.76x. This indicates that the company's growth would be higher than what market is paying for a dollar of earnings. In simple terms, the market perception is not in line with future growth and we can say that the price is not perfectly correlated to the anticipated growth. Industry growth estimates are 17.09% but the street expects SunPower to grow by a staggering 30%.
With growth estimated at 30% for the next 5 years the multiplier to value the company should be higher than its P/E. That is why we are taking a relatively higher multiplier of 35x.
The mean price target is $35.7, using an average multiplier of 30x which is also above the current price. However, we will use a higher multiplier of 35x and a target price of $42. These estimates give us a 25% upside on SunPower.
SunPower Corp. is well-positioned in the solar industry. It has highly advanced and differentiated products, which, despite their high costs are capable of competing with the low cost and less efficient solar modules. With its intense exposure to R&D, we believe that the company will be able to compete on the cost basis in the near future. It has the potential to become the leader in the solar industry. With the anti-dumping legislation enacted in the US, cap on China's sales in the EU and plans to initiate global leasing, SunPower has an opportunity to penetrate these markets. The top quality cells, Maxeon, enable the company to compete with other American counterparts like First Solar. As far as Asia is concerned, the market will continue to be influenced by China until the solar giants of America can develop a cost effective solution.
Overall, the future of SunPower Corp. is bright whether fueled by their differentiated technology or by the backing of Total S A. The target price of the company indicates further price growth. So, our call on the shares of SPWR is a BUY.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
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Recent Macro News
Source: Wallstreetdaily, SCMP, CNN Money
The last 2 quarters have seen influential countries such as china, India and Saudi Arabia announce heavy commitments to investing in solar infrastructure. The news isn't particularly surprising if you are aware of the hazardous pollution levels in China and India. China, the most populated country in the world, claimed that it will spend over $361 billion on renewable energy development by 2020. According to China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), 40% of that spending will go towards solar and that will result in more than 1000 major solar plants, boosting china's solar capacity by 5 times.
Khalid Al-Falih, the energy minister of Saudi Arabia, announced that the oil capital of the world plans to spend as much as $50 billion on renewable energy. The short-term goal is to generate 10 GW of electricity through solar and wind by 2023. Al-Falih remarks that the long-term goal is to have renewable energy account for 30% of the country's total energy consumption by 2030.
Forbes states that India has installed 5.4 GW in 2016, and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy estimates 15 GW (estimates to around 22% of global demand in 2017) and 16 GW of solar installation for the next two years. The Indian Government aims to accumulate 100 GW of solar by 2022, a feat which will require around $90 billion in total.
The combined future solar spending by these three countries, as well as the rest of the world, is an enormous pie to split between the big players in industry. In this article, I will use fundamental data to compare First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ) and JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS), 3 heavily undervalued solar leaders which are well positioned to meet increasing global demand. All financial figures are expressed in USD via Bloomberg.
First Solar's $3.94 billion market cap is by far the largest in this group. First Solar is the only company on this list headquartered in the US and has an American management team. Canadian Solar's $855 million market cap is the next highest. Canadian Solar is based in Guelph, Canada, but the management team and production is predominantly Chinese. JinkoSolar's $542 million market is the lowest of the bunch. The company is entirely Chinese from its headquarters to production.
Revenue & Gross Profit & Net income
Please note that analyst consensus Q4 revenue and net income are used to estimate full-year 2016 revenue for Canadian Solar and JinkoSolar. On a GAAP basis, First Solar reported $2.951 billion in revenue and $704 million in gross profit for 2016. Net income came out to be -$382 million due to a $729 million unusual expense which we believe to be asset write-offs. Canadian Solar is expected to earn $2.871 billion in revenue, $459 million in gross profit and $89 million in net income. JinkoSolar is projected to pull in $3.331 billion in revenue, $647 million gross profit and $125 million in net income. JinkoSolar leads the pack in revenue and net income due to the tremendous demand for solar in China, where JinkoSolar conducts a majority of its business. First Solar boasts the highest gross margin at 24% while Canadian Solar and JinkoSolar have gross margins of 16% and 19%, respectively.
Cash & Debt
Looking at the balance sheets of these 3 companies, it's clear why First Solar is trading at a higher earnings multiple compared to its peers. First Solar currently has more than 10x cash on hand than total debt and actually received $5 million in interest income in 2016. Canadian Solar has $481 million cash on hand and a heavy debt load of $2.344 billion. The company is paying an estimated $52 million in interest expense (first 3 quarters annualized). JinkoSolar has $2.663 billion in debt, the highest of the three and dwarfs First Solar's debt of $188 million. JinkoSolar is estimated to pay a substantial $95 million interest payment in 2016 (first 3 quarters annualized). Although Canadian Solar and JinkoSolar are carrying high levels of debt, one must note that Canadian Solar and JinkoSolar have historically financed their projects with debt rather than equity.
Current Price vs. Book Value
All three solar leaders are currently undervalued relative to their book value. First Solar, with over $2.4 billion in retained earnings, is trading 22% below book value. JinkoSolar has been GAAP profitable for the past 10 quarters and accumulated $339 million in retained earnings during the same period. JinkoSolar is currently trading 28% below book value. Canadian Solar at its current price of $15 is trading just $1 below its book value of $16, but the company has been steadily growing its retained earnings from $47 million in Q4 2014 to $294 million as of Q3 2016.
First Solar, with 22 covering analysts, has 5 buy ratings, 4 sell ratings and 13 hold ratings. First Solar is currently trading right around the analyst target of $35.9. Canadian Solar, with 2 buy ratings, 2 sell ratings and 7 hold ratings, is trading slightly below its price target of $15.2. JinkoSolar, with only 7 covering analysts, has 3 buy ratings and 4 hold ratings. The analyst target of $23.2 represents a 36% upside from the stock's current price.
Although we believe all three stocks have bright futures, we currently hold Canadian Solar only. Although Canadian Solar's P/E is not as low as JinkoSolar's and the company's book value is below both of its peers, we remain enticed by Canadian Solar's diverse project portfolio. Since its inception, 100% of JinkoSolar's revenue came from the People's Republic of China. In 2016, 83% of First Solar's revenue came from the US, 5.4% came from India and 11.7% from various other countries. For the 12 months ending 9/30/2016, Canadian Solar derived 41.7% of its revenue from Asia, 46.8% from America (a good portion of which is from Canada) and 11.5% from Europe + other foreign countries. We believe Canadian Solar's diversified global presence positions the company tremendously to meet the increasing global demand for solar. We will continue to buy on dips and may initiate a position in JinkoSolar in the near future.
Disclosure: I am/we are long CSIQ.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.