Solar-cell manufacturer China Sunergy has taken quite a few hits from Wall Street since going public on the Nasdaq in May. The latest pummel comes from the law firm of Schiffrin Barroway Topaz & Kessler, which said late Friday evening it filed a class-action lawsuit against the Chinese company on behalf of shareholders.
The news pushed China Sunergy's stock (NSDQ: CSUN) down 9.52 percent, to $10.08 per share Monday.
Filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit spews a slew of allegations connected to China Sunergy's IPO. But the gist of the suit alleges the company failed to disclose it lacked an adequate amount of silicon, the raw material used in making solar cells, to meet "near-term" production demands.
China Sunergy didn't respond to requests for comment by press time.
"It's sounds like one of those terrible situations where you leap into business and try to do well and your shareholders are suing you for not having disclosed a risk. Terrifying," said Mark Cox, CEO of New Energy Fund. "But I can't imagine (China Sunergy) wouldn't have had that basic paragraph in the prospectus's financial risks."
China Sunergy did discuss risks in its registration statement, including those surrounding the silicon shortage that is hitting the solar industry hard (see Silicon Starvation and Silicon Shortage Has Big Impact). But it wasn't enough to fend off lawsuits.
Silicon has been the company's Achilles heel. The silicon shortage also has been a problem for a number of other solar companies (see Could China Steal the Solar Throne?).
"This is just one of the realities in the solar industry: You have to have your silicon supply lined up and in order," said Ron Pernick, a co-founder and principal at research and consulting firm Clean Edge.
China Sunergy has been a poster child for the solar industry's silicon challenges (see China Sunergy Gets a Bit of Relief).
The company, which made its Nasdaq debut in May, initially offered shares at $11 each. The price grew to $16.56 per share by the end of the first day, only to sink more than 63 percent after the company in August posted a second-quarter loss of $3.8 million, or 14 cents per share, when analysts had expected a profit of $56.5 million, or 2 cents per share (see Silicon Steals the Spotlight, Again).
China Sunergy blamed the silicon shortage for its missed earnings, reporting that the cost of making its cells more than doubled from the last year and cutting a planned expansion, from six production lines to four.