One thing though is sure -- analyst sentiment towards the sector has turned far more cautious. A year ago, 13% of analysts polled had "sell" recommendations on the manufacturers. Before the Vestas/NEG Micon merger news, it was 40%. The sector's boom and bust cycle is proving exhausting and the difference of a few orders and timing of key regulatory decisions are still enough to have a significant impact.
Whether investors fully understand the underlying volatility is unclear, but they do expect chief executives be able to better manage expectations and forecast appropriately. The planned DKK 2 billion stock issue by the new Vestas/NEG Micon, as well as the 2004 financial reporting year, will be important tests for the companies.
Not everyone had a rocky 2003 though. Gamesa continues to impress. Its shares are up 49% from January, having risen steadily throughout the year on the back of consistent positive developments. Close to 60% of the analysts following Gamesa rate it a "buy" -- double that of any of the other companies.
The wind sector's performance in the last quarter illustrates the divergent views. Gamesa was up 21%, while the others had sharply negative price performances, each down between 23-35%. The Windpower Monthly share performance index was down 16% for the quarter versus the broader European stock market index, which was up 3% for the same period. Over the whole of 2003, our share price Windicator was down 15%, while the broader market was up 5%.