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Investing In Solar Power’s “Picks, Pans And Shovels”

Last week, for the first time since I started writing here, I wrote a positive piece about solar energy. I picked two companies, First Solar (FSLR) and Canadian Solar (CSIQ) that I believed could benefit from a general upturn in the solar energy sector. Over the last week they have gained 4.55% and 10.89% respectively; so far, so good!

It is nice to see that short term pop in both stocks, but the selections were really based more on a long term belief that the industry is about to turn after several years in the doldrums. That downturn was caused in part by oversupply in the solar business. As supply has slowed to restore equilibrium in the supply and demand equation, prospects for companies in the sector have improved. The downside to that has been the effect on businesses that supply the industry.

Amtech Systems (ASYS) would be a case in point. In fact, Amtech, who manufacture parts and systems for the solar power and semiconductor industry, got hit on two fronts. Just as oversupply affected their business supplying solar power companies, so the same dynamic hurt the semiconductor industry. They went from consistent profits to consistent losses, seemingly overnight. Earlier this month, as those losses came in at over twice the consensus expectations, the market finally lost patience and the stock tanked.


Figure 1: ASYS 3 Month

Hidden in that disastrous quarter, however, was some good news; orders were up 125% on a year to year basis, largely…

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