Thursday, January 26, 2012

Renewable energy India stocks collapse- ‘bubble’ bursting or opportunity?

Quick quiz. What is common to Suzlon, Moser Baer, Indo Solar, Websol Energy systems and Orient Green Power? All these stocks had successful runs on the stock market and hyped as the next game changers in wind energy, semi conductors, solar power and hydel/geo thermal power. Valuations were more on growth stories than through an hard nosed DCF spreadsheet. But now, they trade at record lows(like other stocks but what is different is the pressing fundamental concerns in each case). Is this a bubble finally bursting, or are investors panicking? 

Suzlon cherishes an ambitious vision of being the technology leader in the wind sector, and among the top three wind companies in all the key markets of the world. It expects that by 2015, total worldwide installation of wind energy would cross 442 GW which is almost 2.3 times of the current installation. This will cover about 7.5% of the global electricity supply by then, as opposed to just 4% now. But the solar bubble collapse in Spain, France and Germany(where subsidies were almost withdrawn) has put concerns on the very business model of solar(preferential feed in tariffs at peak hours(morning/noon)), as mentioned by First Solar in its 10K filing. So with gradual withdrawal of subsidies to wind energy generators, will Suzlon be able to regain pricing power for its equipment? Even in India, the most recent round of wind energy purchase tenders, saw bidders discount the CERC approved tariffs of Rs 17.91 by nearly 30%-35%, indicating that new players are willing to slash prices to gain market share. This would impact supplier pricing as well. 

Moser Baer, Indo Solar and Websol Energy systems, wanted to capitalize on the boom in demand for solar photovoltaic cells. Indo Solar wanted to take benefit of the 25% capital subsidy scheme for project capex over Rs 1,000 crores( as per the Special Incentive Package scheme announced by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India). But the global over supply(especially from China) backed by costs increases in key raw materials, led to EBITDA margin compressions, and short of domestic protectionism, I do not see a bright future for these stocks. While they are all trying vertical integration, entering into adjacent industries etc, the core business model is facing challenges due to global supply scenario, and price driven market. 

Orient Green Power is a slightly different proposition though. In 1H’12(Sep11 half year) alone, it added 80MW of wind energy, and had 300MW generation capacity(250MW wind+50MW biomass) in operation. However, with 250MW capacity wholly in Tamil Nadu and that State Electricity Board being in financial distress, investors seem to have discounted the stock which trades at P/BV of 0.5, despite its aggressive growth plans to reach 550MW capacity by Jun’12! At market cap of Rs 610 crores(with debt of Rs 190crores), the company had an EV of Rs 800 crores(assuming the Rs 170 crores of cash offset the current liabilities of Rs 195 crores, as the loans and advances of Rs 808 crores would presumably not be liquid), which would imply an EV of Rs 2.67 crores/MW, nearly half the estimated Rs 5.3cr/MW replacement cost of that capacity. 

So have the factors affecting thermal power stocks(bankruptcy like status of SEBs, increased fuel costs, project execution delays) rubbed off disproportionately on these stocks as investors blindly herd together to sell power stocks? Or is it that the favourable economics may change? For export oriented equipment manufacturers like Suzon, the subsidy withdrawal story may play out, but for domestic generators, the national solar mission and other such plans would seem to give a secure price floor and assured market to sell the generated power.  These stocks are worth tracking though, as a hedge against the general power sector decline.  For a wider perspective on these stocks, read this post by Mr Abhishek Shah, a buy side energy analyst(

Though not directly a renewable energy stock, ICSA India makes smart grid solutions and thereby helps to save energy. Even that is a distressed stock which I'd mentioned earlier on my blog(

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