* SunPower misses profit view, shares drop 4.5 pct
* JA Solar raises outlook, shares slump 7.51 percent
* Q-Cells, Centrotherm, Phoenix Solar beat expectations
* Q-Cells CEO sees demand, prices dropping in 2011
(Recasts, adds details on SunPower)
By Christoph Steitz and Dana Ford
FRANKFURT/LOS ANGELES, May 11 U.S. solar
company SunPower posted a weaker-than-expected quarterly profit
on Tuesday, while German solar companies and a Chinese rival
benefited from brisk demand for the renewable energy source.
But solar stocks fell across the board as looming cuts in
Germany's industry subsidies weighed on expectations.
SunPower's SPWRA.O shares dropped 4.5 percent in extended
trade as results were dragged down by rainy weather in Italy,
which delayed some project construction there. The company
matched analysts' expectations on revenue. [nN11120894]
German photovoltaic module maker Q-Cells QCEG.DE and
wholesaler Phoenix Solar AG (PS4G.DE), in contrast, topped
analysts' forecasts for the first quarter, as did fast-growing
China-based JA Solar (JASO.O), which posted record quarterly
Leading solar companies warned that demand and solar panel
prices could fall after Germany, the largest solar market, cuts
its subsidies later this year.
Nedim Cen, chief executive of Q-Cells, the world's No. 4
solar cell maker, said he is optimistic about business in the
second half of 2010, but worries prices could fall in 2011.
European players are already struggling to digest the slump
that pushed prices for modules and cells down by up to 50
percent while low-cost Asian players snatch market share.
"We all know that demand is strong and quite frankly, I was
expecting the German players to exceed expectations," said Jon
Sigurdsen, renewable fund manager at DnB Nor's Carlson,
pointing to strong quarterly results from Q-Cells, Phoenix
Solar and solar machine maker Centrotherm CTNG.DE on
Also on Tuesday, Shanghai-based JA Solar posted a quarterly
profit and raised its outlook on strong demand for photovoltaic
solar equipment that helps turn sunlight into electricity.
But some analysts had expected even stronger results from
the company, which had raised its quarterly sales forecast, and
its shares fell more than 7 percent.
Once spoiling investors with lavish returns, the solar
sector is in the process of consolidation as governments cap
support for the subsidy-dependent industry to move it closer to
being economically independent.
Plans by the German government to cut so-called feed-in
tariffs, which emerged in January, have caused solar stocks to
tumble. The tariffs are the sector's support until there is
grid parity -- the point at which solar power costs the same as
fossil-fuel generated power. [ID:nLDE60D273] [ID:nLDE60E0E4]
As customers pile in to take advantage of the subsidies
before they get slashed, sales are surging, but analysts fear
booming demand could lead to oversupply and falling prices in
the second half of the year.
Andreas Haenel, chief executive of solar wholesaler Phoenix
Solar (PS4G.DE) said he expected a drop in demand for solar
products in the third quarter, once the cuts become effective.
Graphic on China's cell market share vs Germany:
Graphic on price developments vs new capacity:
Q-Cells, Centrotherm, Phoenix Solar and SolarWorld
SWVG.DE, Germany's largest solar company by sales, held their
2010 outlooks steady.
"None of the companies changed their 2010 guidance, despite
better-than-expected worldwide demand trends in the first half
of 2010, mostly due to ongoing uncertainties around the impact
of second-half German feed-in tariff cuts," Bryan, Garnier & Co
analyst Ben Lynch wrote in a note.
Shares in JA Solar fell 7.51 percent on the Nasdaq, while
SolarWorld fell 7.3 percent, and Centrotherm's stock fell 3.9
percent. Q-Cells shares were 5.3 percent lower while Phoenix
Solar shares gained a 1.1 percent.
For a FACTBOX on Germany's solar elite, double click on
For an ANALYSIS on German solar sector subsidy cuts double
click on [ID:nLDE60E0E4]
For an ANALYSIS on China's solar industry double click
(Additional reporting by Martin Roberts in Madrid and Matt
Daily in New York)
(Reporting by Christoph Steitz in Frankfurt and Dana Ford in
Los Angeles. Editing by David Cowell, Robert MacMillan and