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Nanosolar Worth $2 Billion, Solyndra $1 Billion

By Michael Kanellos
Green Tech - CNET News
March 14, 2008


Nanosolar and Solyndra, which both develop copper-indium-gallium-selenide (CIGS)
solar cells, are looking at raising additional funds, according to sources, and
both companies have put large valuations on themselves.

According to sources, Nanosolar is telling investors it will have a valuation,
after another round of funds, of around $2 billion. Solyndra says it is worth $1
billion. Not bad for companies with combined current revenues at the moment that
probably would have difficulty rivaling the take of a reasonably located
convenience store. Nanosolar just started shipping a few solar cells to
customers at the end of 2007, and Solyndra is ramping up toward production.

I haven't confirmed these rumors, and they might be wrong, but they have been
consistent.

Nanosolar CEO Martin Roscheisen has said that Nanosolar does not have a term
sheet, a document that provides details about business prospects and a funding
proposal, at the moment. Roscheisen, however, has not discussed valuation.
Both Nanosolar and Solyndra were contacted for official comment, but no response
has yet been received. Companies generally don't comment this early on financial
issues such as valuation.

The high valuations seem to be driven by the current dynamics of the solar
business. Demand continues to outstrip supply. The shortage of silicon continues
to hamper manufacturers of silicon solar panels. CIGS solar panels aren't as
efficient for converting sunlight into electricity as silicon panels, but
advocates say they will cost less. The active materials in CIGS panels also
aren't in dire supply at the moment either.

The love affair that investors have had with First Solar, which makes thin film
solar panels with cadmium telluride, also persists, which lends some glow to
CIGS companies. First Solar went public at $20 per share in late 2006 and now
trades at $207. (Before the recent swoon on Wall Street, it hit $283.) First
Solar has also seen tremendous growth in revenue and earnings with each passing
quarter.

When it went public, First Solar was valued at close to $2 billion. It currently
is valued at $16.3 billion. Some believe the company is overvalued, but those
are the numbers.

First Solar, however, was not your ordinary start-up. The company's founders
started tinkering with cadmium telluride technology in the 1980s. By the time
the company went public, First Solar had already begun mass production.

 

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