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Photovoltaics/Business/Solar Stocks 060520
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( June 2003) U.S. Publicly traded Stocks Trudge Uphill to Commercialize Photovoltaics Tracking the status of financial markets in reference to the  development of Photovoltaics (PV) in the U.S. is not clear cut issue.  Many of the players striving for business in the U.S. are such companies  as the market leader, Sharp of Osaka, Japan, and Kyocera Corp. of Kyoto, Japan.  Denmark also has many leading solar/PV companies such as S.A.G. Solarstron, AG and Solar Fabrik.  There are also the oil giants  such as the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of The Netherlands and  BP Solar International LLC of Linthicum, Maryland, a part of BP (Beyond Petroleum)   headquartered in the UK, entering markets in photovoltaics .   
Spire Corporation
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Although the revenues from Spire Biomedical rose for the first quarter, ending March 31, 2003, the Spire Solar revenues were down 33% to $1,243,000, a decline from $1,859,0000 from the same quarter of 2002.  The downturn in revenues was primarily due to unanticipated delays in PV systems deliveries from Spire Solar Chicago.  Since then, permit problems which caused the delay have been resolved.  

Spire Solar provides solar electric systems for distributed power generation and supplies photovoltaic module manufacturing equipment and turkey solar energy businesses.  

Companies in the United States such as Powerlight and  RWE Schott Solar are not publicly traded. Even SunPower, who recently announced the world’s most efficient, low-cost silicon solar cell, is a private company.
Evergreen Solar, Inc.

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Evergreen also posted first quarter earnings in March 31, 2003, and reported  product revenues of $1.1 million, an increase of $154,000 from $913,000 for the same period in 2002. However, the net loss per common share was $.28 for this first period in 2003.  Mark Farber, President and CEO is bullish on his sales for the year and said “...our 2003  product sales target is $6-$9 million.”

Currently, the company is expanding its Line 2. Line 2 is now producing solar cells with an average conversion efficiency of approximately 13%.

On May 15th, the Company announced it had completed a private placement equity financing of $29.475 million of Series A Convertible Preferred Stock and a warrant.  A total of 26,227,668 shares of this stock were issued at $1.12/share to a syndicate of investors lead by Perseus, LLC. Beacon Power Corporation  is also listed as having  invested $1 million in this Series A Preferred Stock.

Evergreen Solar develops, markets and manufacturers photovoltaic products for a worldwide market.

There are, however,  four U.S. companies whose stock can be tracked on the Nasdaq.  They are: Spire Corporation, Evergreen Solar, Energy Conversion Devices and AstroPower.  Their work with solar, no matter how dedicated and intense, has still not been able to make solar/PV profitable. But, they should be recognized for their efforts in establishing an industry which is in its infancy in commercialization.



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AstroPower, a company which considers itself the world’s largest independent maker of solar electric products, has had a rough year.  Most recently, in April 2003, the Nazdaq officials sent a noncompliance notification to the Company to be delisted from the Exchange for failing to file its annual 10-K report for the year 2002, as required by the Securities and Exchange Commission.  The Company appeared before a Nasdaq Qualification Hearing  Panel regarding the AstroPower’s request for continued listing. A decision  is not expected for several weeks and there is no assurance that the outcome of the hearing will be favorable.  AstroPower has made no known comment on the missed deadline and also no comment on pending shareholder lawsuits. On May 23, Dr. Allen Barnett, President and CEO, and Thomas Stiner, CFO, resigned as officers of the company, but both will continue to serve as directors.    Clarification on its financial accounts is needed for the business community to restore waning faith in the company.

AstroPower went pubic about five years ago.  The stock climbed as high as $60 per share ($40 per share when adjusting for a stock split) in 2000.   In a statement made last year,  Allen Barnett said, “We’re organizing to be a $500 million business in four years.”  However, AstroPower is meeting competition.  This past year, Sharp, the Japanese electronics and photovoltaic manufacturer, has been seriously selling solar cells in Europe, an important market for AstroPower.

Energy Conversion Devices (ECD)
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Increased product development revenues in the third quarter of fiscal 2003 (March 31, 2003) for United Solar, a subsidiary of ECD, were positive -$1,320,000 in 2003 compared to $546,000 in 2002.  However, ECD reported a total  loss of $.41 per share in this quarter in all of its operations compared to a loss of $.23 in the same quarter last year.

In Mid-May there were three announcements for United Solar.
- ECD acquired Bekaert’s interests in United Solar for $6 million and will assume Bekaert’s guarantees with respect  to certain liabilities of the joint ventures amounting to approximately $35 million.
- United Solar Systems and Independent Energy Solutions introduced the SolarQuilt, a solar  product with interconnecting panels designed for all types of flat and low-slope roofing situations.
- United Solar received $11 million contract by the U.S. Air Force.
United Solar has the world’s largest production machine for the manufacture of thin-film amorphous silicon alloy solar cells.  

BD