LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) might have thought its problems were over in December, when an independent audit cleared it of allegations that it misstated its silicon inventory (see Independent LDK Audit Finds No Material Errors).
But analyst reports following fourth-quarter results posted Monday made it clear that the cloud of suspicion around the company hasn’t dissipated.
In a research note Tuesday titled "Inventory questions resurface following 4Q07 results," Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Adam Hinckley wrote that the firm has questions about LDK’s inventory management.
"Concerns over inventory and cash flow, coupled with management’s evasiveness to questions, are likely to cause a negative share price reaction," he wrote. "Firm believes investors will be disappointed by the unchanged 2008 guidance and management’s evasiveness to questions related to changes in inventory, [capital expenses] and financing sources for the aggressive expansion plans."
Piper Jaffray lowered its price target from $34.50 to $27 per share, reiterated its Sell rating, and wrote that "uncertainties persist" and that a "lack of management clarity" will lower share prices.
Lazard Capital, which maintained its Hold rating, wrote that the stock "will likely come under pressure on inventory/margin concerns" and its ability to raise capital for its silicon plant.
Analysts also expressed confusion about LDK’s inventory accounting in a conference call Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Not all analysts reacted the same way, however.
Needham & Co. reiterated its Strong Buy rating in a research note Tuesday, calling LDK "grossly undervalued" with solid supply agreements and an impressive customer base.
And Goldman Sachs, which upgraded the stock from Sell to Neutral last week, apparently hasn’t changed its mind.
LDK posted a fourth-quarter net income of $49.2 million, or 44 cents per share, beating analyst expectations of 41 cents per share. But the company disappointed investors with a gross margin of 30.1 percent, which fell from 30.8 percent in the third quarter and 42.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006, even though the margin beat analyst expectations of 29.3 percent.
The company hinted that margins were falling in its guidance last month (see LDK 2008 Guidance: Higher Revenues, Lower Margins).
LDK shares fell 6 percent to $30.46 per share Tuesday and an additional 8.8 percent to $27.77 per share Wednesday.
Company officials weren’t immediately available to comment.