2014

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: FedEx, JA Solar Holdings, ReneSola, First Solar and SunPower

CHICAGO, March 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX), JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd. (Nasdaq: JASO), ReneSola Ltd (NYSE: SOL), First Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) and SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWR).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

FedEx Sets New Fuel Efficiency Goal

FedEx Corporation (NYSE: FDX), one of the leading package delivery companies has set a new target of 30% improvement in fuel efficiency of its fleet by 2020. The company raised the fuel efficiency standard by approximately 50% from the previous 20% target set in 2008 that it has already accomplished.

We believe the company's efforts will not only translate into sustainable transportation solutions for its customers but will also improve the company's cost structure in the long run.

Previously in 2012, the company released its fourth annual Global Citizenship Report, in which it highlighted its activities towards achieving a sustainable freight transportation system. The report highlighted that FedEx targets reducing aircraft carbon emissions to 30% by 2020 besides meeting at least 30% of its jet fuel requirements through alternative fuels by 2030.

We believe that the growing environmental awareness among corporate houses like FedEx stems from the stringent actions taken by the regulatory authorities to restrain environmental pollution.

The U.S. government as well as regulatory bodies like the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have taken several measures to curb global warming. One of these key measures remains the establishment of the National Program in 2009 – an agreement between the federal government, state regulators and the auto industry.

The national program, also a two-phased program constituted standards for establishing fuel efficiency improvements in a 30 years span, involving the first-ever global warming pollution standards for light-duty vehicles.

The key highlights of the first phase (2012-2016) are setting the global warming pollution standards of 250 grams per mile, on average, for model year 2016 vehicles. In addition, NHTSA requires fuel efficiency standards of an average of 34.1 miles per gallon in a new vehicle. Cumulatively, these measures are expected to translate in 23% improvement in new vehicle pollution standards, representing an average annual improvement of 5% by 2016.

JA Solar Modules Certified for 1000 VDC

The entire range of JA Solar Holdings Co., Ltd.'s (Nasdaq: JASO) modules have received Underwriters Laboratories ("UL") 1703 certification and ETL certification in the United States and Canada. Underwriters Laboratories is a global independent safety science company. Post-certification, the company's modules are permitted to be used on 1,000 Vdc systems.

To get UL 1703 certification, these modules were tested in Intertek laboratories. The certification proves that modules from JA Solar Holdings comply with the requirements of widely accepted product safety standards.

Recently the company's PV modules series have successfully cleared salt mist corrosion and sulfur dioxide corrosion tests. These tests confirm that JA Solar's products offer exceptional reliability even in severe environments.

In fact, JA Solar modules are in high demand throughout the world. In January this year, the company completed the delivery of 9.5 MW of PV modules to the Volkswagen Solar Park. The 9.5 MW installation consists of 33,600 high-performance multi-crystalline silicon PV modules.

There are other companies in the industry which have also benefited from these certifications. Last month ReneSola Ltd's (NYSE: SOL) 72-cell polysilicon modules were certified by UL as meeting required standards for use in PV systems of up to 1,000 volts. Also, the company's 60-cell and 72-cell modules were listed by UL as meeting the required standards for use in PV systems of up to 600 volts.
 
Earlier, in Oct 2012, First Solar Inc.'s (Nasdaq: FSLR) advanced thin-film Series 3 photovoltaic (PV) solar modules were provided UL1703 and ULC1703 from UL to be used in PV systems of up to 1,000 volts.

Based in Ningjin of the Hebei province in the People's Republic of China, JA Solar Holdings Company Ltd. manufactures high-performance solar cells. JA Solar's principal customers are solar module manufacturers, who assemble and integrate its products into modules and systems.

The world is moving towards renewable sources of energy, thereby increasing the demand for solar modules. The company sells primarily to customers in China, Europe and the U.S. The company has also entered new markets like Greece, Portugal, France, Italy and South Korea.

The certification conclusively proves that the modules of JA Solar are fit for a wide range of solar installations. This official recognition would place the company in a strong position and boost its module demand.

However, we remain concerned about the industry-wide high inventory level, tepid module demand in Europe, rising competition, wafer dependency and the financial stability of its customers. The company presently retains a short-term Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

In the near term, we would advise investors to accumulate its short-term Zacks #2 Rank (Strong Buy rating) peer SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWR).

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