Top-Tier Solar Stocks Popped: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Top solar stocks jumped higher today after SunPower reported strong earnings and Suntech Power (NYS: STP) said it would top its previous estimates. That pulled manufacturers Canadian Solar (NAS: CSIQ) , Yingli Green Energy (NYS: YGE) , and Trina Solar (NYS: TSL) along for the ride. Each of these stocks rose at least 10% during trading today.

So what: SunPower reported results last night that topped analysts' expectations and exploded higher in trading today. The company said shipments would be about 10% stronger than previously expected and its inventory and accounts receivables would be down. In the U.S. market, First Solar (NAS: FSLR) said it had cleared up its permitting issues that had held up a DOE loan.

Put all of this news together and you have investors excited that solar companies will continue to report strong fourth-quarter results and stocks will continue to rise.

Now what: The question now is: Should you buy today's pop? I'm heavily invested in solar and look at today as more of a holding opportunity than a buying opportunity. Solar stocks sank earlier this week when word came out that Germany may be preparing a massive cut to feed-in tariff rates, and when details surface, investors may shelter their bullishness.

Pullbacks, like the one we experienced earlier this week, are much better opportunities to jump in. I'm also waiting to hear more detail from Chinese companies about how strong demand in Germany and China will be in 2012. SunPower focused heavily on the U.S. market, where it dominates, but other manufacturers rely heavily on Europe and China and could provide more insight into solar power's future demand there.

Interested in more info on these solar stocks? Add them to your watchlist by clicking on the links below.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Travis Hoium owns shares of First Solar as well as SunPower in his personal account and an account he manages. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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