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Government investment disaster in the works??

Bruce Krasting's picture





 

UPDATE:

Solyndra has gone BK!! I got this one right....

Link to bloomberg story:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-08-31/solyndra-to-file-for-bankruptcy...

Read on. This is a very important story!

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Solar stocks have been a terrible investment over the past few years. Some of the big public names have been hammered.

FSLR = -65%
LDK = -88%
ESLR = -100%
SPWR = -88%

Bloomberg had a story today on this. The bottom line:

The solar-equipment industry is beginning a consolidation that’s already the biggest in at least two years as plunging prices for photovoltaic systems force weaker companies to team with competitors or close shop.

From personal involvement I can add a bit of “color” to the story. Both China Inc. and Euro Inc. solar panel manufactures are willing to provide 100% of the financing (including “soft” costs) for a viable project. What better evidence could you find that there is a very big imbalance of supply and demand?

The fundamental issue is that solar panels are a low tech. commodity product. It’s very difficult to make a buck when that is the case.

These points all lead me to wonder about a big company in this space, Solyndra. This is a private company. I don’t have any financials to look at as a result. Neither do you. But you should, this company is heavily indebted to Uncle Sam.

There was a big announcement at Solyndra the other day. I think that this is a sign of some problems. This from August 19th:

Mr. Gronet was the CEO and Chairman of Solyndra. He was also the founder. He is Ex AMD. When he left in 2005 he had money in his pocket. That (and some VC money) was the capital that got Solyndra going.

It sure strikes me odd that he would be leaving right now. There has been no replacement named. That strikes me odd too.

As I said, there are no current numbers to look at. Solyndra tried to go public back in June 2010. There was a “Red Herring” stock prospectus that was circulated. There was no interest in the deal so it got pulled ("Unfavorable market conditions" was the excuse given) The SEC registration statement (S-1) for the proposed deal was also pulled from the public.

What was in the prospectus was, no doubt, the real reason that investor chose to take a ‘pass’ on the deal. There were revenue/expense numbers for the nine months preceding the proposed deal:


Revenue: $58.8mm
Cost of Goods Sold: $108.0mm



That is an absolute complete disaster. This is a low margin business to begin with. At Solyndra they were losing 84 cents for every dollar of sales. Adding in SG&A and CapEx the losses and cash drain had to be very heavy.

Of course, that’s just me guessing. I repeat, there are no numbers on this company. And that is the crux of the problem. There should be numbers available to the public. After all, the company has been financed by the Department of Energy for years. To make it worse, the funding has come from the Treasury Department’s own private bank. The Federal Financing Bank. Solyndra’s out-standings with the FFB/DOE as of July totaled $530 million. The rates for these advances are clearly subsidized. Consider the interest rate on this $2.5mm loan.

The pattern of subsidized financing is also clear from the FFB reports from January through June 2011.

You would think that with all this money and all these question marks someone in D.C. would be looking into all of this. There actually has been an effort to uncover some facts. But it went no place at all.

On June 27th the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing. On top of the agenda was Solyndra. Jeffrey Zients (Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director) failed to show for the hearing to discuss OMB's role in the Solyndra DOE Loan Guarantee process. He sent a letter saying he had a scheduling conflict. A scheduling conflict? Give me a break!

Of note were the comments by the Chair of the committee, Cliff Stevens (R-Fla) who said that if the OMB refuses to comply in the coming weeks he would issue a subpoena to force disclosure. While I’m not holding my breath for this to happen, a showdown on Solyndra is coming. Keep in mind that the Boss/Owner (Pictured with O) just took a powder a few days ago.
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Side Notes:

From ABC news:

The loan guarantee, the administration's first for a clean energy project, benefited a company whose prime financial backers include Oklahoma oil billionaire George Kaiser, a "bundler" of campaign donations. Kaiser raised at least $50,000 for the president's 2008 election effort.

In one of those “twist of fates” you hear about; back in April of 2008 Senator Hillary Clinton exposed the Kaiser/Obama connection while she was battling the big O in the Arizona primary. Obama was running an ad that said:

“I don’t take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists”

The Clinton campaign made a big deal of this and pointed squarely at George Kaiser and the fact that he was raising big bucks for O’s campaign.
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Wed, 09/14/2011 - 03:17 | Link to Comment chinawholesaler
chinawholesaler's picture

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Wed, 08/31/2011 - 16:29 | Link to Comment Seasmoke
Seasmoke's picture

you know what Obama says......if you aint stealing or cheating, you aint trying

Wed, 08/31/2011 - 15:36 | Link to Comment g
g's picture

Get out of the way government, you can not pick winners and losers. Stimulus fails every time. How about revamping the tax code, getting back to punishing fraud and enforcing contracts. Obama wants another stimulus, what a fool, do not let your tax dollars get wasted again. Write, email, and call your government representative and/or senator.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 23:13 | Link to Comment masterinchancery
masterinchancery's picture

corruption and theft--rinse and repeat

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 22:55 | Link to Comment ItchiBitzchi
ItchiBitzchi's picture

let me enlighten a few how the scam works. The Gov't pumps hundreds of millions of dollars on alternative energy, like solar industry. The banks short the stock by creating an unlimited number of naked shorts. Thus they have other revenues to show trading profits on the last 5 quarters. Bigger bonus, bigger profits bigger contributions via lobying to politicians. It's all a scam and the gig is up. this only buys time, but the ultimate outcome is the default of the US economy. Then, people get angry and take it to the streets, they burn the mansions of these thieves, killing a few in the process. Then some sort of reform comes forth.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 22:42 | Link to Comment sellstop
sellstop's picture

Yeah, right... Cheney/Haliburton, Tea Pot Dome, Bridge to Nowhere, Solyndra.

Ageless..

gh

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:52 | Link to Comment Eireann go Brach
Eireann go Brach's picture

The majority of Americans are desensitized to this stuff now Bruce, to the point that it is just part of life in America! Stealing, Porn, lies, corruption, thievery and Mc Donalds, all just part of being a member of society in the US!

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:46 | Link to Comment wattsnotsaid
wattsnotsaid's picture

Like all the "renewable" energy sources solar PV is not a viable industry. Solar PV costs about 70 cents per kWH to displace natural gas that costs 3 cents per kWh.  The difference is subsidies:  30% federal investment tax credit, 45% state subsidies, undermarket loans and guarantees, renewable credits,  exemption from paying the cost of the electric utility wires, and exemption from property taxes. 

It's even worse if you look at the cost of reducing CO2. Wind costs 300-450 per ton of CO2 reduction. Solar is three time that.  The market price is expected to be about $40 per ton. (Waxman-Markey used about $15).

If there ever was an example of government at its worst (analagouos to the central bankers) it's the renewable energy scam.  WIth full implementation of renewables and CO2 controls it will be like having a sub-prime crisis every year ($700B per year) hit on the economy).

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:42 | Link to Comment wattsnotsaid
wattsnotsaid's picture

Like all the "renewable" energy sources solar PV is not a viable industry. Solar PV costs about 70 cents per kWH to displace natural gas that costs 3 cents per kWh.  The difference is subsidies:  30% federal investment tax credit, 45% state subsidies, undermarket loans and guarantees, renewable credits,  exemption from paying the cost of the electric utility wires, and exemption from property taxes. 

It's even worse if you look at the cost of reducing CO2. Wind costs 300-450 per ton of CO2 reduction. Solar is three time that.  The market price is expected to be about $40 per ton. (Waxman-Markey used about $15).

If there ever was an example of government at its worst (analagouos to the central bankers) it's the renewable energy scam.  WIth full implementation of renewables and CO2 controls it will be like having a sub-prime crisis every year ($700B per year) hit on the economy).

Mon, 12/26/2011 - 17:14 | Link to Comment haibop
haibop's picture

agreed. thanks! Matt Huston Ex2

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:19 | Link to Comment cossack55
cossack55's picture

I liked the article Bruce. Keep up the good work.  No, nothing will change, but it is good theatre.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 18:53 | Link to Comment Miles Kendig
Miles Kendig's picture

Keep these cool trades coming BK

Tue, 12/27/2011 - 14:46 | Link to Comment haibop
haibop's picture

exactly... get your wife back

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 17:19 | Link to Comment SmittyinLA
SmittyinLA's picture

LOL the name "Solyndra" is a bit tongue & cheek, "Solar Laundering"

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 15:35 | Link to Comment Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Bruce, good to see you back... Hope Irene was not too hard on you..

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 16:13 | Link to Comment Bruce Krasting
Bruce Krasting's picture

Was thinking of posting some pics. Stay tuned.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 16:57 | Link to Comment disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Be bold. Add some video feed from the movie Independence Day when you do.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 16:36 | Link to Comment Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Here in Hawthorne we dodged a few bullets... not so for friends upstate though. I saw some awesome photos of the Croton Dam....

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 16:59 | Link to Comment disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Thats not Upstate. You need to get out more.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 17:01 | Link to Comment Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Dont be a dingleberry....

Great Lake Sacandaga and Lake Luzerne are upstate and thats was what I was referring to....

 

Wed, 08/31/2011 - 09:22 | Link to Comment falak pema
falak pema's picture

Off the topic but very on the ball : 

Stop-press flash splash from NY Post, the Murdoch hotspot ragmatag, has it from undisclosed sources  that Christine Haggard is in Sofitel NY and has a waiting line of central bankers from europe who want her to pay back her irrational remarks at Jackson Hole spa; her astonishing spiel concerning the existential relapse of european banking hopium into boot strapped and butt bashed lack of capitalisation after the recent market collapse which has fed her knee jerk panic remark, as vain but urgent warning to upgrade their collective anditote to the upcoming, imminent onslaught of redoubtable bond vigilante barbarianism from US based HFs. And to boot, as supreme icing on the cake baked by manifest destiny,  the bankers expect humble retribution be paid by her for her lese majeste to golden rule of tight lipped neutralism, alike that of a neutered harem guardian, to be executed in total, obedient, subservient, abandoned, naked penitence. The Sofitel has not confirmed the crazy rumor that she has booked for the week into suite #2806 to make honorable amends to irate (and horny) EU central bankers.

Disclaimer : any resemblance to real people and real events is totally fortuitous and should be conditioned by a sincere expression of true absence of malice on the part of the author, whose only irrational and irrespectuous claim to any hidden or ephemeral talent is solely fed by his irrepressible desire to amuse the mad, gloom and doom oriented, ZH audience.

More to the point on the article and subject being debated : I am long on Desertec project. Just to be contrarian to those who laugh at solar's global future.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 15:17 | Link to Comment Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

The fact that you can but solar panels, inverters... on Ebay and set up your house yourself for 1/5 of the cost when you hire somebody, it's a giveaway that that sector has joined the PC world after the 90's.

From 10K to 1K to 500euro for a desktop. and the 500 euro one is 1000 times stronger than the 10K version.

 

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:44 | Link to Comment sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

I don't think installing solar panels on your roof and hooking it up to you home electrical system is exactly as easy as getting on the Dell website and ordering a laptop

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 17:03 | Link to Comment disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

Thanks for the heads up on retail ag. Seeing same thing over here. When you yell at your subordinates do you do it in english?

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 14:21 | Link to Comment roygbiv
roygbiv's picture

c'mon man, I'm sure there are numerous DoD/Pentagon projects that have been/are currently bigger white elephants.

 

Not defending this solar fiasco crap, jes sayin'

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:50 | Link to Comment sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

The point is that government should not get involved in private industry when it has no business there. In this case, they create more supply than there was demand. 

DoD budget needs to be cut by at least 50% if not more. That's a different thread.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 14:10 | Link to Comment Libertarian777
Libertarian777's picture

This article hits the fucking NAIL ON THE HEAD.

I remember Obama going out to the Bay Area with his entourage and saying how fantastic the $500m federal loan to Solyndra was going to create jobs / green tech advances / make money etc.

About 2 months later Solyndra cancelled plans to build their second fab.

500 fucking million dollars.

We should pass legislation. Any time a congressman votes for a funding bill to pay for a project like Solyndra, they must be required to put at least 10% of their net worth alongside the government money into that endeavour.

Solyndra is the biggest fucking white elephant we've paid for through our debased dollar.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 22:31 | Link to Comment DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

The best stimulus bill for this country would be to pay each of the pols a million bucks to take a year long vacation at Obama's place on Martha's Vineyard. Hopefully we can add Timmy and the Bernank as well.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 14:09 | Link to Comment Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

Political patronage and corruption need to be weeded out but hold the horses on your statement:

The fundamental issue is that solar panels are a low tech. commodity product. It’s very difficult to make a buck when that is the case.

95% of all products are low tech commodity products.  Did you know that 95% of all workers are low-tech commodity workers?  How many high-tech companies pay dividends?

 

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:52 | Link to Comment sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

95% of all products are low tech commodity products.  Did you know that 95% of all workers are low-tech commodity workers?  How many high-tech companies pay dividends?

What does that have to do with the government blowing $500 million on a solar company that failed?

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 17:06 | Link to Comment disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

How many tech guys in source?

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 13:26 | Link to Comment DonutBoy
DonutBoy's picture

Good job as usual Bruce. I wish to God they would simply shut-down the DOE tomorrow.  it has utterly and completely failed.  It was formed with one mission.  It has made no progress, and it's involvement in the marketplace is taking capital away from those who would.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:53 | Link to Comment sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

In government, when you fail, that means you didn't receive enough funding. They will double down. 

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:31 | Link to Comment IQ 145
IQ 145's picture

And the EPA, and the DEA, and the FDA, and FEMA, and DHS, and kick the UN the fuck out of New York and rent out the building. There's absolutely nothing enough government can't fuck up.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 14:00 | Link to Comment ATG
ATG's picture

Economics and politics don't mix

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 15:43 | Link to Comment falak pema
falak pema's picture

whereas politics and corruption do.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 13:22 | Link to Comment El Viejo
El Viejo's picture

I got solar cells in my attic to use to power my HAM radio when the end comes. This country is not very far sighted. Canada is converting fleet trucks to Nat Gas and China and Germany are investing heavily in Solar. Yeah, you can point to these solar companies and say solar is a bad investment NOW, but what about when the economy turns around. THEN it will be too late. China and Europe will eat our lunch. I don't care how much money is being invested under the table or otherwise in alternative fuels. And yes I'm knowledgeable enough to know that it will NEVER totally replace Oil, BUT do you want to depend on religious zealots for fuel or not?

Everything in this country has a high correlation to oil, be it fuel or solvents or main ingredients(plastics). We never learn in this country. Next time the Repugs get into power they will kill all solar investment and we will fall another eight ears behind China in Solar R&D. It is truly sad. I remember when both parties could agree on common ground when it came to common sense, but these days they are both so entrenched in their religious  political dogmas that nothing good gets done any more. Yet another viable industry forsaken here and picked up by people with common sense over seas.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 20:59 | Link to Comment sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

Canada is converting fleet trucks to Nat Gas

Nat Gas supplies aren't infinite either. What happens when they run out of nat gas?

China and Germany are investing heavily in Solar.

How much is heavily? Give me the amount in terms of currency or GDP

do you want to depend on religious zealots for fuel or not?

We get most of our oil domestically and from Canada, Venezuela and Mexico. 

we will fall another eight ears behind China in Solar R&D.

When did the chinese get 8 years ahead of us in solar R&D? They don't invest in R&D. They copy what we do. It's much more economical. 

I remember when both parties could agree on common ground when it came to common sense, 

The only time the parties agree is when they are about to fuck us over

 

I'm surprised there are still people stupid enough to think the government will solve all our problems. 


Tue, 08/30/2011 - 18:26 | Link to Comment TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

Those solar cells work much better when placed above the roof shingles, rather than below them. They prefer sunshine to attics.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 22:38 | Link to Comment DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

I'm waiting for them to BE the roof shingles, each looks like a shingle, clicks into grid  and looks like a classy roof. Haven't seen it yet.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 14:15 | Link to Comment BigJim
BigJim's picture

If it's a 'viable industry' why does it require subsidy?

Let the Chinese government subsidise and produce this stuff, we'll buy it cheaper from them once they've perfected it and it will be their loss. Meanwhile, let's concentrate on stuff we're better at. Like... er....

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 21:00 | Link to Comment sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

Don't upset the socialists with your logic

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 15:29 | Link to Comment Crisismode
Crisismode's picture

Internet Porn.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 22:39 | Link to Comment DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

We're number 1!!

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 14:00 | Link to Comment eurusdog
eurusdog's picture

It is true the US doesn't change because it is just to easy to stay on oil. The US does nothing these days that is difficult. We are becoming less educated, fatter, and more complacent.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 22:00 | Link to Comment TrulyBelieving
TrulyBelieving's picture

The US doesnt change because just as the article suggests, alternative energy isnot an economically feasible alternative. Oil is by far the cheapest energy. Eco 101. Now being fat and lazy is another topic.  

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 21:02 | Link to Comment sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

Let's make it harder on ourselves by wasting billions of dollars propping up unprofitable companies. 

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 13:43 | Link to Comment Are you kidding
Are you kidding's picture

With the supply falling and prices rising...just how long do you think those religious zealots are going to have that oil?

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 13:20 | Link to Comment mechawreck2
mechawreck2's picture

Bruce, tip of the iceberg...have a gaze at the 1.3Billion loan DoE cut for Brightsource - no idea how the contract reads but little doubt DoE will own that pink elephant unless they give it to the company. Morgan Stanley (pe) hip deep in that mess. More bailouts.

Tue, 08/30/2011 - 13:13 | Link to Comment ZackAttack
ZackAttack's picture

I want to hear our resident solar expert's take on the Chinese companies. I am thinking he will be doubling down right here.

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