Solar Industry Outperforms S&P 500 YTD: 4 Stocks in Focus
Over the past couple of years, the U.S. Solar market has witnessed considerable growth, buoyed by the nation’s attempts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and make a transition to cleaner energy resources, with solar energy being a major participant. This year, the Solar industry has fared reasonably well, while majority of the industries are suffering a setback due to the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.S. Solar market has soared a solid 105.6% so far in 2020 compared with the Zacks S&P 500 Composite market’s growth of 6.5%.
Factors Driving Performance So Far in 2020
We have observed that solar energy has been driving the global renewable space of late, apart from wind energy. Per a report by Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the use of renewable energy during the first quarter of 2020 was driven by a rise of about 3% in renewable electricity generation, after more than 100 GW of solar PV and around 60 GW of wind power projects were completed in 2019.
Notably, rapid increase of corporate investments in solar energy has been one of the growth catalysts for such solar project completions in the United States. Falling prices, and flexible financing and procurement options have led to rapid growth in off-site corporate solar adoption, which made up for more than a third of all commercial solar activity in 2018.
Furthermore, declining costs of solar panels, favorable policies, such as renewable electricity production tax credits (PTC) and preferential feed-in tariffs, and increased adoption of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) have been boosting the usage of solar energy in recent times.
Although the current pandemic-led crisis situation has negatively impacted solar installation activities to some extent in 2020, soaring demand for carbon-free power along with the aforementioned factors continued to bolster the U.S. solar industry.
Consequently, in first-quarter 2020, the U.S. solar market saw the installation of 3.6 GWdc of solar PV, marking the highest installation in any first quarter by more than 1 gigawatt.
5 Stocks in Focus
Considering the aforementioned factors, let’s take a closer look at five stocks from the Solar industry that have so far outperformed the broader market. Their favorable Zacks Rank and impressive performance make them valuable options for an investor.
SolarEdge Technologies’ SEDG revenues improved 2.1% from the year-ago quarter’s $325 million on solid shipments. It shipped a total of 1.44 gigawatts (AC) of inverters during the second quarter. Notably, its shares have rallied 124.2% year to date, compared with the S&P 500 market’s 6.5% growth.
Azure Power's AZRE first-quarter fiscal 2021 revenues soared 16% whereas its operating megawatts increased 12% year over year. Further, the company's electricity generation during the quarter improved 26% year over year. Notably, its share price witnessed a 1.4% rise after the release of its first-quarter fiscal 2021 results.
SunPower Corp. SPWR has witnessed improving trends in 2020 for its global DG business with particular strength in the U.S. channels business. The company registered a strong performance in the second quarter, generating close to $30 million in positive cash flow and launching new products despite disruptions caused by the pandemic. Notably, its shares have rallied 70.2% year to date.
First Solar’s FSLR revenues witnessed a 9.8% increase from the year-ago quarter’s $585 million, primarily due to the sale of the American Kings project. It also reported an operating income of $50.9 million against the loss of $8.6 million incurred in the year-ago quarter. The company’ shares have gained 38.3% year to date.
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