SunPower forecast tops most estimates, shares up 12 percent
(Reuters) - SunPower Corp (SPWR.O), which makes solar panels and builds power plants with them, on Wednesday said revenue and profits for the rest of the year would be above most analysts' estimates, sending its shares up 12 percent.
The news was the latest bright spot in the solar manufacturing industry, which has struggled mightily with a dramatic slide in prices over the last few years.
On April 9, SunPower rival, First Solar, said revenue and earnings for the next three years would be well above estimates, and its stock logged its biggest ever one-day gain.
Since then, solar stocks have been on a tear, with the MAC Global Solar Energy index .SUNIDX rising more than 46 percent. Shares of SunPower, which is majority owned by France's Total SA (TOTF.PA), have more than doubled.
SunPower has slashed costs in recent years as the global glut of solar panels erased profit margins for manufacturers. The company makes the most efficient panels in the industry and charges a premium for them.
But it has moved away from a reliance on manufacturing by expanding its project development business. Earlier this year, SunPower sold two massive projects in California to a company controlled by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N). It is also benefiting from the expansion of solar lease arrangements with homeowners, a business in which it competes with others, including SolarCity (SCTY.O) and SunRun.
SunPower is also chasing more business overseas thanks to its relationship with Total, which is investing in some of SunPower's projects, the company's president of regions, Howard Wenger, said during a presentation to analysts in New York.
The company has a 6 gigawatt global pipeline, Wenger said, and expects to realize about a quarter of those projects.
"Our pipeline has really grown fast, in large part due to the collaboration with Total," Wenger said.
SunPower will also be expanding its rooftop solar business in overseas markets.
SunPower said it expects to report net income of between 5 cents and 15 cents per share on an adjusted basis for the second quarter. Analysts on average have been expecting a loss of 2 cents per share.
The company said it expects revenue of $540 million to $590 million for the second quarter, easily beating the average analyst estimate of $513.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
SunPower forecast 2013 revenue of $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion and income before items of 60 cents to 80 cents a share.
Including items, SunPower expects 2013 results to fall between a loss of 5 cents per share and a profit of 20 cents.
Analysts were expecting revenue of $2.551 billion and earnings before items of 64 cents a share.
The company said it would cut operating expenses by 10 percent from 2012 levels.
SunPower shares were up $2.82 at $21.85 at midday.
(Reporting By Thyagaraju Adinarayan; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Kenneth Barry)
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