SunPower Stock Doubles in Meme-Craze-Fueled ‘Short Squeeze’

image is BloomburgMedia_SDH806T0AFB400_14-05-2024_20-00-08_638512416000000000.jpg

Workers install solar panels during a SunPower installation on a home in Napa, California.

Heavily shorted SunPower Corp. shares more than doubled at one point on Tuesday, putting them on track for a record gain, as the stock of the solar power company got caught up in the latest meme-stock frenzy.

The stock of SunPower, which sells residential systems, climbed as much as 105% on the day, to as high as $5.63, after a roughly 20% advance Monday. The California-based company has added more than $400 million in market value this week, which has seen meme-stock traders once again pile back into the stocks of old targets GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.

As those traders bid up SunPower stock, short sellers have increased their bets against it. Short interest in the stock climbed to almost 96% on Tuesday, according to data compiled by S3 Partners.

“My strong suspicion is this a classic short squeeze probably connected with the rest of these meme stocks,” said Graham Price, a clean-technology analyst at Raymond James. He said SunPower is an ideal short-squeeze target because it has very high short interest, along with an extremely low float because the majority of its shares are owned by TotalEnergies SE.

Other US-based solar-equipment stocks also rallied. Maxeon Solar Technologies gained as much as 66%, Sunnova Energy International by 33% at its highest, and Sunrun Inc. by 15%. Price at Raymond James said the Biden administration’s move to hike tariffs on a range of Chinese imports, including solar cells, wouldn’t help SunPower because it’s no longer a manufacturer. 

The rally led SunPower shares to wipe out a 2024 loss. A prolonged slump in the rooftop solar business has presented serious challenges. The company eliminated more than 25% of its workforce last month. it also made plans to shutter its residential installation locations and close its direct sales unit, said it expects to incur restructuring charges of about $28 million and announced it needs to restate almost two years of financial results.

A company spokesperson declined to comment on Tuesday.

The entire rooftop solar industry has been struggling, with elevated interest rates making it more expensive for people to install panels. California, the largest solar market, cut payments to homes and businesses that sell excess solar power back to the electric grid, a move that left the industry reeling. 

(Updates shares.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

By Geoffrey Morgan , Josh Saul


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