Companies that make solar panels and related technology get no respect these days. At least, that’s the contention of the investors who love them.

Most of the companies just reported results that were better than Wall Street had expected, and the price of oil is way up, which should be great for renewable-energy stocks.

And, on average, the best-performing stocks in the group, including SunPower (ticker: SPWRA) and First Solar (FSLR), have, in fact, outperformed the Nasdaq’s 2% rise since the beginning of the year, climbing 6%.

But all the solar stocks also trade below the market’s price/earnings ratio, a fact that is enough to make solar investors more ornery than a pack of wolverines. I should know: I blog about the stocks for, and some of the reader comments are unprintable.

First Solar, perhaps the gold-plated, Good Housekeeping name of the bunch, trades at 14.9 times this year’s projected earnings per share. LDK Solar (LDK) sells at just 5.3 times expected profits, with SunPower, at 7.8 times, and Trina Solar (TSL), at 5.7, on a similar rung of ignominy.

source: online.barrons