Shares in solar power companies fell on Thursday, led by a 14-percent drop in LDK Solar Co Ltd, which posted a wider-than-expected quarterly loss.

The slump came as Barclays Capital downgraded the U.S. solar energy sector to neutral from positive, as it sees slower-than-expected demand growth and recommended investors wait for better entry points.

And in Germany, Q-Cells AG, one of the world's largest makers of solar cells, said it would slash its workforce by about a fifth as a result of a price slump in the industry that caused a first-half loss before interest and tax.

Although solar shares have underperformed so far, we believe lack of potential near-term catalysts, relatively rich valuation and weak seasonality could likely result in further downside pressure, Barclays analyst Vishal Shah wrote in a note to clients.

In early trading on the New York Stock Exchange, LDK Solar's stock was down $1.57, or 14.0 percent, at $9.64. China's Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd 5.3 percent to $12.75, Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd 4.6 percent to $17.50 and Trina Solar Ltd 3.2 percent to $28.86.

On the Nasdaq, First Solar Inc was down $1.11 at $143.88 and Sunpower Corp slipped 62 cents to $28.14.