First Solar (FSLR)
Stock gain in past year: 126%
Change in shares shorted: -64%
Change in shares days to cover: -40%
A reliance on government subsidies, increasing price competition from China and a pile of other factors has historically made the solar industry a popular destination for short sellers.
Unfortunately, a killer comeback by solar stocks this year has also made that destination a painful one.
As of last October, more than half of the float was sold short for solar stock First Solar (FSLR). Since then, the stock has gone on a rampage. FSLR’s 12-month gains might lag those of rivals Yingli Green Energy (YGE) and SunPower (SPWR) … but a near-doubler in 2013 has been enough to flush a good chunk of those shorts out. The number of shares sold short has slid from 29.8 million a year ago to 10.8 million now, which is 21% of the FSLR float. That’s more than 30 percentage points lower year-over-year.
First Solar has a number of optimistic expectations, including revenue generation from its Californian “Desert Sunlight” solar farm and a resulting boost in earnings guidance for the year.