Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here. (Smart Brevity count: 1,146 words / ~4 minutes.)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Solar panels? For investors in solar power stocks and ETFs so far this year, it's been more like solar profits.
What's happening: Invesco's solar ETF, up 51% year-to-date, has returned about 4 times the S&P 500's gain for 2019 and has even delivered almost double the average return of other clean energy ETFs, after a tough 2018.
"Things look a lot better so far this year," Tom Heggarty, senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables (WoodMac), tells Axios. "I suspect stocks are doing better because the industry is expected to grow significantly."
By the numbers: A new report from WoodMac and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) finds that Q1 saw U.S. solar installations (combined utility-scale, residential, commercial and more) rise 10% versus the same period in 2018.
The intrigue: Solar stock prices have outpaced other renewable energy options thanks to major pickups in residential installation of solar panels, particularly in the South. The uptick has come from states like Florida and Texas, so-called emerging markets in the industry, that are now beginning to see a changing regulatory environment pay dividends.
Yes, but: Non-residential installations fell to the lowest quarterly level since Q1 2017, dropping for a second year in a row. The report suggests policy shifts in states like California, Massachusetts and Minnesota may be stifling commercial growth.
"The first quarter reflected bit of a rebound for rooftop solar, and perhaps more importantly the amount of corporate investment in solar by companies such as Anheuser Busch, Starbucks, Facebook, Target, Walmart and many others," SEIA spokesman Dan Whitten tells Axios in an email.
Apple again led S&P 500 companies in buybacks, spending a new record $23.8 billion in Q1, more than doubling its spend from the previous quarter, data from S&P Global shows.
The big picture: While Apple has increased its buyback spending, other S&P 500 companies have slowed from 2018's record pace.
Yes, but: Buybacks rose 8.9% from Q1 2018, which set a record at the time.
What they're saying: Ratings agency Moody's warned last month that companies are spending more on share buybacks and dividends than they were paying in taxes before the 2017 tax cut. The tax savings "can be wiped out entirely by even a modest change in share buybacks," Christina Padgett, senior vice president at Moody's, told Axios at the time.
Go deeper: Apple needs a next act
Investors are again getting bullish on emerging markets, as the Fed is expected to cut interest rates and the dollar is expected to fall in value. That should mean a strong environment for EM economies to perform.
Driving the news: The lira saw the biggest gains in the global FX market, rising nearly 2% against the dollar Sunday after the city's mayoral election was again won by a candidate running against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's party. (The same candidate won in March, but Erdogan ordered a mulligan, claiming fraud.)
Background: It's been exactly 1 year since Erdogan won re-election and his handling of the economy, central bank and foreign policy have put investors on edge.