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Not a glowing debut for Real Goods Solar

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From Times staff writer Edward Silver:

A crowd of solar energy stocks came public in the last two years. So far In 2008, the flow of new shares, solar and otherwise, is all but stopped up. One offering made it through Thursday, however. Real Goods Solar Inc. has been installing and distributing panels and other products in California since 1978, so it must be run by a patient bunch.

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Real Goods, a subsidiary of New Age supermarket Gaiam Inc., raised $55 million in its IPO. One of the littler operations to hit the market, it generated net revenue of $6.5 million in the March quarter, its prospectus shows, along with a loss in the vicinity of $325,000.

Noting the deficit and perhaps realizing that Real Goods’ business is fairly hard to scale up and easy to enter, investors have bid the shares down. After being priced at $10, they were going for $8.50 at midday Friday.

“Green” is currently the top theme for new issuance, noted Kathleen Smith of Renaissance Capital in Greenwich, Conn. Per the IPO research firm’s accounting, 17 new stocks displayed an ecological tinge last year, out of 273 total. In a sluggish 2008, the proportion is much higher: five of 29. Said Smith: “We think there will be a lot of opportunity for that group this year.”

Money & Co. blogger Tom Petruno is on vacation this week. He returns Monday.


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