Lousy economic data and a looming Greek electoral disaster caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to jump another 115 points on Friday, or almost 1%, because it fuels the hope the Fed and global central bankers will flood the markets with even more cheap and easy money. Some stocks, though, went on their own joyride, actually driving even higher than the Dow. But resist the urge to high-five everyone in the cubicles next to you, since smart investors won't celebrate until they know why their stock surged. Without a fundamental basis for the bounce, these stocks can quickly make the return trip down.
The Dow's financial stocks paced the days gains, with Bank of America once again leading the way higher with a 3% rise, but American Express recovered from having missed out on the previous day's rally and was up more than 2% on its own. That's to be expected when there's global financial news leading the headlines.
Yet sometimes there's no company-specific event to cause a stock to surge, and that seems to be the case with solar shop ReneSola (NYS: SOL) , which saw shares catapult 32% higher on no news. While JA Solar (NAS: JASO) announced a buyback plan the day before that mimicked ones like ReneSola and LDK Solar (NYS: LDK) previously implemented to soak up depressed shares that have tumbled sharply over the past year, that hardly seems a catalyst to push other stocks higher.
ReneSola did have options expiring Friday that might have some traders closing out positions, and with 11% of its float sold short, perhaps it created a cycle of short covering that led to a rout. But it was an up day generally for solar stocks as the CAPS solar power sector was 3% higher as a whole.
Without a solid foundation for ReneSola's gains to build on, I expect them to be fleeting. Last month it reported earnings that came in much worse than analysts had been anticipating as revenues plunged 41% from the year-ago period. With polysilicon prices still dropping, don't expect margins to improve much or at all for some time yet. ReneSola was forced to write off $12 million worth of inventory in the quarter because of depressed pricing.
There may be some bright spots in the solar industry, but it's not one I'd want to have my money in now, and without a basis for the surge I'll be leaving my CAPS underperform rating on ReneSola. KayakerRW has pointed to the crowded field in solar as a reason behind tight margins in the industry and notes that when compared to the competition, ReneSola has performed much worse.
But you can tell me in the comments section below or on the ReneSola CAPS page if the investors bidding up its shares yesterday will get singed as it plunges back to Earth, a modern-day Icarus that soared too high, and then add its stock to the Fool's personalized stock-tracking service to be alerted of any real news that could affect its operations.
Tilting at windmills
Another long-suffering stock that saw its shares rise by nearly a third was ATP Oil & Gas (NAS: ATPG) , which only last week was plummeting because the hiring of a CEO went sour. He was in, then he was out; he was buying $1 million worth of stock, then he wasn't. Companies who can't get the employment of their top executive right don't inspire much confidence, which actually led me to say on Friday that I couldn't recommend buying the stock.
While my timing was less than impeccable as ATP's stock jumped 30% that same day, I'm not sure the reason it rose is really a good one that portends future gains. The oil-and-gas exploration specialist sued the federal government over the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico it imposed last year.
I agree that President Obama's ban on drilling was wrong and the resulting "permitorium" by the Interior Department that ended up bankrupting Seahawk Drilling was unconscionable. Shallow-water drillers like Hercules Offshore (NAS: HERO) , which bought Seahawk's assets, have yet to recover, while Parker Drilling has posted two straight years of losses because of those actions.
Suing the government might be a feel-good move for ATP, but considering ATP's huge debt load and tiny cash reserves, its money might be better spent on developing its projects in the Gulf and off the coast of Israel.
So tell me in the comments box below if you think it's got any chance whatsoever of recovering any of the $68 million it's suing for, then add ATP's stock to your Watchlist to be alerted if by some miracle it should succeed.
Going into orbit
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At the time this article was published Fool contributor Rich Duprey holds no position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Hercules Offshore. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a write covered strangle position in American Express. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
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