Sunedison Inc Tanks After Analyst Questions Near-Term Viability

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SunEdison shares fell off a cliff today after an analyst raised concerns about all the debt the solar company has taken on recently. He’s concerned about the very deal that sent the stock higher late last week when other firms upgraded it based on the press release headline about that deal, which told only part of the debt story.

SunEdison shares are down 16.17% as $2.80 per share as of this writing. The stock was halted briefly after hitting a circuit breaker when it plunged 24%. Keep in mind that this is a stock with a huge 52-week range with the lowest point at $2.36 and the highest price in the last 52 weeks at $33.45 per share. Shares have plunged 85.84% over the last year.

SunEdison’s “massive amount of debt”

Axiom analyst Gordon Johnson said today on PreMarket Prep that he’s worried about the huge debt load the solar company has taken on and doubts whether it can even make it through the year without going under, reports Benzinga. He said most of the “massive amount of debt” SunEdison has taken on was used to purchase projects that it planned to put into its yieldco. The firm tacked on $10 billion in debt just between 2011 and 2015.

“Essentially what happened is the yieldco story ended, and this was a company left with a lot of debt and a lot of projects which are extremely capital intensive,” Johnson told PreMarket Prep on Tuesday. “When the yieldco story fell apart, you didn’t have that buyer of first resort.”

Can SunEdison sell its projects?

The Axiom analyst is now waiting to see whether SunEdison will be able to sell all those projects it went into debt for in the third-party market. The problem facing the solar company is that it has been attempting to unload the projects since the second quarter of last year, but so far—even though it’s been nearly a year—it hasn’t been able to sell to parties outside its own yieldcos and warehouses. He added that because of how many deals the company has done and the type of those deals, if it can’t sell the projects, the equity may not last much longer.

According to Benzinga, Johnson doesn’t think SunEdison made the right move with the recently announced financing deal. In fact, he said it makes him even more cautious on whether the solar company will be able to make it through the end of the year. Further, the company didn’t provide a lot of details on the deal, which means a full analysis on it isn’t really possible, he believes.

As a result, he argues that bulls have based their thesis on SunEdison on their “biased views” rather than on “reality.”

SunEdison receives upgrades despite bearish warnings

Interestingly, Axiom was one of the two firms who upgraded SunEdison shares last week. He downgraded it in November to Sell but upgraded it to Hold. Today’s interview with PreMarket Prep included similar comments to what the analyst said last week in his upgrade report on the stock when he warned investors that the company has sucked out the value through its debt extinguishment deal.

The other firm that upgraded SunEdison was Avondale Partners, which moved their rating to Market Outperform and raised their price target from $6 to $7 (compared to Johnson’s $2 per share price). Unlike Johnson, they think all the assets the company has been trying but failing to sell are worth more than the valuation that’s been granted it. Of course if SunEdison needs to sell those projects but can’t find a buyer, we must ask just how the valuation of those assets can be determined. Are they really worth a lot if no one wants them?

SunEdison is a closely watched stock that has been popular with major hedge funds over the last year or so. In the second half of last year, Dan Loeb exited the stock, although as recently as October, David Einhorn was still a believer. It will be interesting to see what the next set of 13F filings indicate in terms of hedge fund movements over the fourth quarter.

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