The bottom is dropping out of the market for large-scale inverters as government subsidies for renewable energy are lowered worldwide.
America’s largest inverter company, Satcon is running into financial problems, and is being sued by shareholders alleging fraudulent mis-statements. Its shares are at a 3-year low.
Known to some angry shareholders as FatCon, Satcon’s problems are evidence that, despite their warm words, Venture Capitalists and Utility companies are not embracing renewable energy unless they are paid to do so through government subsidies.
“Satcon’s inverters are grid-tied and line interactive,” says the company web site, “enabling them to convert direct current (DC) power from solar arrays to alternating current (AC) power that is compatible with the utility voltage for export to the grid.
Smaller inverter manufacturers have not suffered similar falls in demand.
The class action complaint brought by existing shareholders charges Satcon and certain of its officers and directors with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Satcon is a leading provider of utility-grade power conversion solutions for the renewable energy markets in the United States and internationally.
The complaint alleges that the defendants issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business practices and financial results. Specifically, defendants misrepresented and/or failed to disclose the following adverse facts: (a) that the Company was experiencing a decrease in sales of its inverter systems; (b) that the Company’s European market was performing below internal expectations due to changes in government incentives for solar energy; (c) that the Company failed to properly account for its inventory; and (d) as a result of the foregoing, defendants lacked a reasonable basis for their positive statements about the Company and its prospects.
On February 22, 2011, Satcon announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and year end of 2010. With regard to the Company’s outlook for the first quarter of 2011, defendants stated that they expected ” revenues to be in the range of $65 to $70 million with our gross margin between 25% to 27%.” In reaction to the announcement, the price of Satcon stock fell $1.29 per share, or 27%, to close at $3.54 per share, on heavy trading volume. On April 7, 2011, Satcon announced its preliminary financial results for the first quarter of 2011. For the quarter, the Company revised its guidance and stated that revenue would be between $61 million and $63 million and gross margins would be within a range of 23% to 25%. In reaction to this announcement, the price of Satcon stock fell $0.23 per share, or 7%, to close at $3.29 per share.
On April 27, 2011, Satcon announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2011, the period ended March 31, 2011, and its guidance for the second quarter. With regard to the guidance, defendants stated that they expected “revenue to be in the range of $50 to $60 million.” Then on July 5, 2011, the Company announced preliminary financial results for the second quarter of 2011. For the quarter, the Company expected revenue to be between $45 million and $47 million due to “changes in government incentives in the company’s higher margin markets in Europe as well as delays on a few projects that have been pushed into the third quarter.” Moreover, the Company announced that its gross margin estimate would be “between 7% and 11%, below the company’s previously announced guidance of 17% to 20%” due to the “lower revenue range, and the effects of the slowdown in the European market. Lastly, the Company announced that it was reducing its workforce by 15%. In reaction to these announcements, the price of Satcon stock fell $0.59 per share, or 23%, to close at $1.95 per share, on heavy trading volume.
The shares are currently trading at $1.88.
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