Solar Frontier is a Japanese company which was earlier known as Showa Shell Solar. The company joined the rank of major solar companies once it started the new 900MW “Kunitomi” production plant in Miyazaki. Solar Frontier manufactures CIS (copper, indium, selenium) thin-film solar modules for customers all around the world. The company has offices in Europe, the U.S.A., and the Middle East, with headquarters in Tokyo.

Kyocera is amongst the oldest Japanese vertically-integrated solar panel manufacturers. It  also manufactures industrial ceramics, telecommunications equipment, office document imaging equipment, electronic components, semiconductor packages, cutting tools, and components for medical and dental implant systems. Kyocera Solar Corp. in Japan was founded in 1996 and Kyocera Solar, Inc. in the U.S. in 1999. The company has production bases in Japan, Mexico, Europe and China and is planning a factory in California as well.

Japan’s share of global PV system revenue have shown an increase from  just 9% in 2011, to 14% in 2012 to 24% in 2013. Japan is a country where solar energy is flourishing because of its Government support through generous feed in subsidy. The Japanese are very particular about using their home brand. They also follow strict certification requirements, hence it will not be easy for the foreign players to enter the Japanese market. The Japanese market will also offer another market to the many suppliers who have exited the European markets, owing to the Anti-dumping proceedings there and reductions in FITs. As opposed to Europe the FITs in Japan are very attractive.
Read more about Japanese Solar Panels here.

Distinguishing Features between Solar Frontier and Kyocera Solar Panels

Solar Frontier modules have conversion efficiency of 11.8% to 13.4%. Their “Light soaking” effect increases the output after installation. They are Cadmium- and lead-free. Solar Frontier uses recyclable substances as packing material and are cardboard free. They use the CIS technology in module manufacturing. Kyocera  Solar uses high-performance solar cells, with efficiency of over 16%, for its solar module production.Classification of Solar Modules and Available Models

Solar Frontier Modules – can be conveniently used for residential, commercial and utility purposes. They manufacture thin film modules.

  • SF145-S – 145W
  • SF150-S – 150W
  • SF155-S – 155W
  • SF160-S – 160W
  • SF165-S – 165W

Kyocera Solar Modules – can be conveniently used for residential, commercial and utility purposes. Kyocera solar modules are all multicrystalline.

 1) F Series –
a) KD – 135-320 W
b) KD300-80 series – 315-320 W
c) KD200-60 series – 240-250 W
d) KD200-54 series – 215-220 W
e) KD100-36 series – 140 W

2) Off grid Series – KD100-36 FSX series – 140W.

Wattage

Kyocera solar modules have a wattage range of 135- 320 W. Solar Frontier modules have a wattage range of 145- 165 W.

Weight

Kyocera solar panels wegh in between 12.9 kg and 27.5 kg. Solar Frontier modules have a standard weight of 20 kgs.

Frame

Kyocera solar panels come with black anodized frame. Solar Frontier modules also have a black anodized aluminium frame.

Standards and Certifications

Kyocera solar panels are NEC 2008 compliant, UL 1703 listed and IEC61215, ED2, IEC61730 certified by JET. Solar frontier modules have PTC/STC rating over 90% and are also UL, JET and RoHS compliant.

Warranty

Solar Frontier  gives a 25 year extended warranty on all its solar panels. These Solar Panels are reinsured by the German insurance giant Munich Re, which means in case if Solar Frontier goes out of the solar panel business, Munich Re will insure that the warranty holds good. This is better than the standard warranty given by solar panel manufactures.

Kyocera solar panels have:

i) 10 years limited PV warranty on materials and workmanship,
ii) limited power output of 20 years (80%/ 90%) or
iii) 1/ 2 years limited PV modules warranty.

For more technical details read here: Solar Frontier and Kyocera solar panels.

SMA Solar is firing 700 workers from its nearly 4000 workforce, as the company tries to align costs to its falling revenue. The Solar InverterGerman solar inverter maker is the world’s largest producer and shipper of inverters for the global solar market. The company had a 40% market share just 2 years ago, thanks to the strength of its domestic German market. The company used to sell its inverters at a premium over others and managed high margins. SMA Solar was not affected by the gloom in the solar panel industry, as Asian companies did not have the technological expertise of SMA and other European makers. However, Chinese companies such as Sungrow have managed to improve their quality and reduce costs at the same time.

Read on GWI List of Major Solar Inverter Manufacturers.

We have predicted in the past that SMA Solar might face the prospect of other German solar companies as solar inverter ASPs go the solar panel way. The Chinese and other Asian companies have entered the fast growing $7 billion solar inverter market in a big way. They have also been helped, as China is set to overtake the saturated German market as the largest demand driver of solar panels. SMA Solar has been trying to curtail market share losses by buying a Chinese inverter company. However, its efforts have not been too successful as it continues to see a double whammy of lower revenues and lower ASPs.

SMA Solar needs to make a radical change in its strategy if it hopes to survive the change in the industry. I don’t think it will even manage to keep the current 3000 German workers. The company will need to outsource to other locations, otherwise it might face the fate of European telecom equipment makers.

Also Read on GWI Why Solar Inverter Top Dog SMA Solar is Losing Marketshare.

Bloomberg

SMA Solar Technology AG (S92), the world’s biggest maker of inverters, said it will eliminate 700 full-time jobs in Germany by the end of 2014 as the photovoltaic market it supplies shrinks.

SMA Solar has begun talks with its works council to ensure the cutbacks are handled “in the most socially responsible way,” the Niestetal, Germany-based manufacturer said in a statement

“For the first time in many years, measured in euros, the global photovoltaic market will decline in 2013,” Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Pascal Urbon said in the statement. “As market leader, we will be especially affected by this,” he said, forecasting “an extended period of consolidation in the solar sector.”

Reliance Industries

Mukesh Ambani has been one of the biggest businessmen working for his consumers. Chairman of India’s largest private sector company, did it once again with Reliance Retail this time. The Company added a stunning 13 million loyal customers to its network of retail stores. The reliance stores see a footfall of over 2.5 million every week. Shocking isn’t it? Well the number is made realistic by the Reliance Retail Ltd.

Read more about Reliance Retail – Subsidiaries, Businesses & Financials.

 Ambani followed his passion of engaging millions since the formation of Reliance Infocomm to which he added over 11 million subscribers before Ambani brother partition.

Reliance Retail Ltd. saw new heights when its revenue reached INR 11,000 Crore registering a cash profit of Rs 78 crore. RRL, which is the subsidiary of parent organization Reliance Industries Ltd., is said to have a little fewer than 50 retail-business subsidiaries under it.

Significance of Retail Business to the entire Reliance Group

Retail business worth around $2 billion now plays a important role for the entire group worth around $68.4 billion. Over 60% of Reliance’s revenue comes from exports. Thus to invest in the high-growth domestic consumption-based market was reliance’s next bet which included both 4G broadband and retail sector.

Retail is already bearing fruits for the group while broadband launch is under testing mode.

If we take a quick sneak peek into RIL’s balance sheet, we find that the cash rich company having cash pile of over INR 80,000 crore generates almost 38% of its net profit from interest earned. The refining and petrochemical business of RIL adds to the cash pile every year, despite the business’s inability to grow.

Expectation from Retail Segment

Reliance’s retail business can benefit the company from India’s growth. Also it can bring in more profits from business operations, thereby reducing the share of interest income in the net profit. Improvement in operating profit will help the company use its cash bank for acquisition which will again help the company expand its network across India and worldwide.

Telecom business will be disruptive or the industry and to match the industry for retail, Reliance needs to catch up on industry leader Pantaloon Retail. 

Growth Strategies

The value format for the retail sector accounts for over 60% of total revenue generated saw least additions of only 10 stores. Company currently aims to focus on large stores of the format wholesale or cash-and-carry. Company also is not looking at opening any reliance fresh stores of the neighborhood format.

Company is currently focusing towards the growth of loyal programme. Loyalty programme is a key driver to LFL (Like-for-Like) growth which helped contributing over 65% to the company’s sales. It is expected that the loyal-programme shoppers tend to sped twice as much as other customers do.

Reliance Brands

As a part of third strategy the company plans to expand its presence by massive expansion of its smaller stores in other formats. The fashion and lifestyle format, Reliance Trends, saw the maximum number of new store launch at 95. Also the new stores addition when added with old stores sales gives the final figures in retail sector which has been impressive for Reliance trends. Reliance trends grew by 8% LFL, where as its digital format saw 17% LFL growth. Reliance Brands showed highest overall growth numbers at 82% with revenue touching 200 crore and LFL growth of 12%. Reliance brands forms joint venture with foreign brands is a luxury business. The Company also plans to go for private labels in order to minimize its dependency on the supply chain. Also private labels give higher margins and thus forms to be a logical step for RRL.

At last to conclude we can say that Reliance Industries has been loyal to its consumers and this time, the company is expected to reach new heights provided investment is made using its cash bank to expand the network.

China forces Foreign companies to set factories in China

China has done a fabulous job in forcing foreign companies to play by its rule in the past. The government there has allowed foreigners the access to its huge market, in return for setting up factories and research centers in the country. It has fostered firms who have managed to learn the technology and set up cheap manufacturing themselves. This has allowed China to become the biggest exporter in the world. India on the other hand, has a weak and government led by pygmies. The ruling party is ruled by a dynasty and the PM is a powerless bureaucrat with no power. The ministers are busy full time in lining their pockets and retaining political power with no time to think about the progress of the country.

There are periodic alarms about the huge quantum of equipment imports and how the country is totally depended on the outside countries for its basic needs. There are some reports made by highly paid consultants which gathers dust. The new semiconductor policy is a classic example of the Indian government’s incompetence over a long period of time. There is no vision and the attempts are half-hearted and useless. Same is the case with the telecom equipment and power equipment policies. India has a robust private sector with global leaders like Tata Motors, TCS etc. However, they have also been subverted by the system and are busy in gaming regulations rather than creating value (for most companies I think).

India should ask FSLR to set factories in India

First Solar (FSLR) is a US solar panel company that has made hay in India by exploiting a big loophole in India’s federal subsidy for solar energy. The
company sells thin film solar panels which are allowed to be imported by solar plant developers under India’s JNNSM. This has led FSLR to capture almost 80% of orders in India’s JNNSM built solar plants making a mockery of India’s efforts to promote domestic manufacturers. The company is now colluding with the US government to prevent India’s 2nd phase from closing this loophole. India is the only big market for FSLR outside of its own country, as it cannot compete in the Japanese and Chinese market. The FSLR CEO has realized this and is making a huge effort in growing its presence in the Indian market by tying up with the local players and making statements against India’s domestic content policy. The country has also abandoned a plan to set up a multi-million factory in India, as it does not think that the government will impose anti dumping duties against it. Let’s hope that the Indian bureaucrats and politicians can look beyond their own selfish interests and do the right thing.

However, I don’t think that they will rise to the occasion.

The Indian solar manufacturing industry is running on fumes with 10% capacity utilization. Even the bigger capacity players like Tata Power, Indosolar and Moser Baer are running at very low utilization as the market has been captured by imports from China and the US. It is estimated that almost 80% of the solar panels being used in India’s 1.3 GW solar plants are imported.

The huge price crash in solar panel prices globally has made Indian manufacturers redundant. Most companies even in China are running at losses as overcapacity has led to a complete loss in pricing power. Indian companies are very small compared to the global majors like Sunpower (SPWR), Trina Solar (TSL) and Yingli Energy (YGE). They don’t have a chance unless the Indian government offers them some protection from foreign government subsidies. US companies like First Solar (FSLR) have become predators in the Indian market as they realize that the Indian government is weak and corrupt. Unlike Japan and China, the Indian government gives no protection to the local industry. This is one of the reasons why India imports billions of dollars in value added equipment across all sectors like telecom, power and now renewable energy. The US government made India look like a fool by going to WTO over India’s ineffective local content policy.

Read all about Solar Products in India – Guide on Solar Energy Panels, Lanterns,Lights,Heating Equipment Suppliers.

Earlier the Indian companies managed to export some panels into the fast growing European market. But now with overcapacity they cannot compete in the local markets, leave alone the foreign developed markets. The Chinese companies are trying to set up local factories in order to beat the potential duties which might happen in the future. India is going to be the 3rd to 4th largest solar energy market in the world. The Chinese companies desperately want a piece of the pie. Recently one of the “small” big solar player in India- Titan EnergySystems talked about how they had received an offer for a JV from 2-3 players in China.

 

Renesola (SOL) and Trina Solar (TSL) already have got tie ups in place and SOL is planning to set up a solar panel factory in India soon. The capex costs of new plants have gone down drastically in the last few years due to scale and technology improvements. India’s government cannot continue its inept and corrupt ways. It needs to learn from METI and others on how to strengthen the local industries.

Also read on GWI Solar Equipment Sales falls off a cliff, only $3.6 billion sold in 2012 compared to $13 billion last year.

Cornered by cheaper imports of finished products in the solar power sector, including solar panels, domestic manufacturers see their only hope in anti-dumping laws in India and elsewhere.
While India commenced its anti-dumping probe against import of solar panels in November last year, the European Union (EU) has recently decided to impose anti-dumping tariffs against Chinese imports.”With these anti-dumping moves, the Chinese manufacturers are looking at entering collaborations with the local manufacturers as the Indian export channel do not attract anti-dumping laws for these products in the US or in the Europe,” Rao SYS Chodagam, founder and managing director of Hyderabad-based Titan Energy Systems Limited, said on the sidelines of a workshop here on Monday.In fact, a large Chinese player has already approached three Indian companies, including Titan Energy Systems for setting up a 500 Mw capacity, he said, refusing to reveal the name of the company.

It is undoubtedly true that the mobile phones have taken a toll over the global economy development. The world is no more a big place and people can now contact any person staying miles away in a matter of seconds. Mobility has improved at large. The use of smart phones, tablets have been increasing manifold. Short messaging services like BBM/Whatsapp are used extensively by people to stay connected. Recently in a survey it was found that large scale use of messaging services like BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and WhatsApp are done by manipulators. These applications are used as a medium to spread sensitive information about stock target, which at the end is resulting in a speculative environment.

Usage of Social Media services in Stock Market

The capital market regulator in India, the SEBI has announced several steps which are being taken to check the risks being posed by these new-age mobile applications. SEBI has reported that it is in the process of implementing software tools to check and analyse the discussion pertaining to stock market on the social media. The market regulator, to strengthen its probe and oversight on capital market, has tied up with several IT experts. This will help SEBI understand the current picture in a better manner.

As far as the applications of messaging services are concerned, it is becoming difficult for SEBI to track the source of such information. Applications like Whatsapp and BBM are too tricky, given the multi-level difficulties faced in tracking source (epicenter) of market sensitive information.

These mass messaging problems are adding to the woes of the market regulator as the transmission of messages in these platform use internet. Use of internet encodes the messages in a complex manner which is difficult for the third party to decode.

Manipulation of Stock Prices using Social Media

The market manipulators/speculators have been using the social media like Facebook/twitter/Blogs etc. in a big way to influence the price of stocks. False word is spread as news for different stocks by people using a fake id which is thought as a tip by common man. People have now moved to easy means of spreading messages. The use of blog, etc has reduced given the fact that these platforms could be easily tracked due to their highly public nature.

The free messaging services available on the platforms of BBM/Whatsapp etc. have added attractiveness among the speculators as these medium are comparatively fast and easy.

Also Read Social Network strategy for Companies and its Importance.

SEBI is finding it difficult to track the data related to the call records from telecom companies. Tracking of messages from these mobile apps seems impossible. SEBI also pointed out that these applications are increasingly used for insider trading. SEBI’s investigations into number of insider trading cases recently has unveiled that the used of apps like BBM and WhatsApp are increasing among people. SEBI has hired IT specialists to check the transfer of information through these medium.

SEBI wants to stop free flow of false information using Internet & Mobile device services

It is expected that in near future, the market regulator will come up with certain regulations to prevent the use of mobile phones from manipulating the market. The Social media platforms have become an effective place to spread information in real time and are being used by various scrupulous elements in the stock market.

Development of free websites giving stock tips have also increased manifold. People uses fake charts about the stock movement which is aimed to attract the common people towards their prediction. These problems have been taken up by SEBI, which is soon going to create a ban on the use of leading social media platforms and websites to support such discussion related to stock market.

Conclusion

At last we can say that the market watchdog is currently determined to bring a new wave of development and transparency in the market. This will definitely help safeguard the interest of retail shareholders. These reforms when implemented will ensure that the market is driven primarily based on one’s fundamental and technical analysis.