Management Turnover as Change Agent

Monday, September 22, 2008

Renewables Firm Ascent Solar Jettisons CEO

Ascent Solar ASTI (NASDAQ) a renewable energy firm involved in the development of thin film solar power modules announced the resignation of its CEO, Matthew Foster.  Foster had been with the development firm since 2005.  According to the company's press release,
... the Board and its President and CEO have mutually decided that a
 change of leadership presents the best path forward for the company, as it heads into the manufacturing phase of its development. Effective September 19, 2008, Matthew Foster, its President and Chief Executive Officer, has resigned his position. Dr. Mohan Misra, Ascent Solar’s Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, will serve as the company's interim President and Chief Executive Officer until a permanent replacement is found. 
The company's press release went on to quote Foster upon his resignation in which he stated,
“Ascent Solar is transitioning from a research and development company to a manufacturing and commercially focused organization. I am pleased to have been the leader of Ascent Solar during this initial stage, and I felt that new leadership would be better at leading Ascent Solar’s next phase of growth where operational and manufacturing expertise will be critical. I expect Ascent Solar to continue to grow as a leader in the thin film photovoltaics arena,”
Ascent Solar was also in the news today for a story related to short selling and its impact on renewable energy related firms.  According to a story in,
Some renewable energy companies feel their stocks have been illegally targetted by short sellers.

... "Not only have financial companies been targeted, but many alternative energy companies, and solar companies in particular, seem to have been favorite targets for this illegal and manipulative naked short selling action," said Evolution Solar Corporation (Pink Sheets: EVSO) in a release.

... According to Evolution Solar, other illegally shorted solar companies on the SHO Threshold List are Akeena Solar (NASDAQ:AKNS), Ascent Solar Technologies (NASDAQ:ASTI), Solar Fun Power Holdings (NASDAQ:SOLF), Sunrise Solar (OTCBB:SSLR), and SunPower Corp (NASDAQ:SPWR), all of which have seen substantial price declines.
While it is possible Ascent stock value may have been impacted by short sellers the fact that the CEO is leaving so suddenly probably means the decline in stock value is more associated to the product and top management.  At a time went renewables are very high profile and the company has been in an extensive development phase investors should keep a close eye on the moves the company makes over the next number of months.  Particular attention should also be paid to the individual the company ultimately finds to permanently replace Foster.

Stay tuned

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