* Says European business will return to profit by year-end
* Stock up nearly 18 percent
* Company to give FY outlook at May analyst meeting
(Adds details on U.S., Japanese, European demand, analyst
May 2 SunPower Corp, which makes solar
panels and builds projects with them, on Thursday posted
better-than-expected quarterly results due to strong demand for
solar energy in North America and Japan, sending its shares up
more than 17 percent.
SunPower is building several large solar power plants in
California and said demand from residential customers for its
panels is strong. Like others in the solar installation
industry, the company is benefiting from the growing popularity
of solar leasing, which allows homeowners to pay a monthly fee
for solar panels rather than make a large upfront investment.
The San Jose, California, company, which is majority-owned
by France's Total SA, also said the Japanese market is
robust. Toshiba Corp and Sharp Corp accounted
for about a quarter of its first-quarter shipments.
SunPower also said its European business will return to
profitability by the end of this year. The solar industry has
been grappling with a global oversupply of panels and falling
subsidies in Europe, a combination that has sent prices on solar
products into a tailspin in the last two years and hammered
SunPower's panels command a price premium in the market
because they are the most efficient in the industry at
transforming sunlight into electricity.
SunPower reported a first-quarter net loss of $54.7 million,
or 46 cents per share, compared with a loss of $74.5 million, or
67 cents per share, a year ago.
Excluding one-time items, it earned 22 cents per share. On
that basis, analysts had been expecting earnings of 6 cents per
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose to $635.4 million from $494.1 million a year
ago. Analysts had been expecting revenue of $507.73 million, on
average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The results came out before the close of trading on
Thursday. SunPower shares closed 17.6 percent higher at $15.29
on the Nasdaq.
SunPower said it will provide its financial forecast for the
second quarter and fiscal-year 2013 at an analyst meeting in New
York on May 15.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; editing by Matthew