2-Star Stocks Poised to Plunge: First Solar?

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Based on the aggregated intelligence of 180,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, solar module maker First Solar (NAS: FSLR) has received a distressing two-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at First Solar's business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

First Solarfacts

  
Headquarters (Founded)Tempe, Ariz. (1999)
Market Cap$5.8 billion
IndustrySpecialized semiconductor
Trailing-12-Month Revenue$2.5 billion
Management

CEO Robert Gillette (since October 2009)

CFO Mark Widmar (since April 2011)

Return on Equity (Average, Past 3 Years)23.8%
Cash/Debt$464.44 million / $361.46 million
Competitors

LDK Solar (NYS: LDK)

Suntech Power (NYS: STP)

Yingli Energy (NYS: YGE)

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 18% of the 3,851 members who have rated First Solar believe the stock will underperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bears include All-Stars Jeffrey2012 and icrazy, both of whom are ranked in the top 15% of our community.

Earlier this month, Jeffrey2012 nicely summed up the First Solar bear case: "Declining government demand and increasing difficulty in obtaining financing for subsidized solar demand will mean harder won contracts going forward. Also, increasing supply glut will continue to hurt margins."

Currently, First Solar even trades at a P/E of 11.4. That represents a clear premium to industry peers like LDK (2.1), Suntech (3.0), and Yingli (2.1).

CAPS member icrazy expands on the underperform argument:

Solar is just not profitable. Government aid alone can't change that, at some point they will have to become profitable on their own. That will not happen until there is a massive change in the technology that will make it more cost effective. You can't continue to sell your product at half what it is costing you and still stay in business. Even with all the efforts to make conventional froms of energy cost more, it is still going to take a long time for solar to be competitive.

What do you think about First Solar, or any other stock for that matter? If you want to retire rich, you need to protect your portfolio from any undue risk. Staying away from dangerous stocks is crucial to securing your financial future, and on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are working every day to flag them. CAPS is 100% free, so get started!

Interested in another easy way to trackFirst Solar?Add it to your watchlist.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of First Solar. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of First Solar. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool's disclosure policy always gets a perfect score.

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