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UPDATE 3-SunPower to revise 2011 view on Italy changes
May 12, 2011 / 8:24 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 3-SunPower to revise 2011 view on Italy changes

* SunPower Q1 net loss $0.02/shr

* Second-quarter revenue view below Street estimates

* Company to revise FY outlook due to Italy changes (Adds details on Italian market from conference call, CEO comments)

By Nichola Groom

LOS ANGELES, May 12 (Reuters) - U.S. solar panel maker SunPower Corp SPWRA.O on Thursday offered a second-quarter revenue forecast that was below market estimates and said it would soon revise its full-year outlook because of subsidy cutbacks in Italy.

Shares of the company, which agreed to sell a 60 percent stake to French energy company Total SA (TOTF.PA) last month, fell 1.3 percent after the announcement.

Last week, Italy pared the generous solar power incentives that had made it the world’s second-largest market behind Germany. The cuts have slowed development of projects in Italy and fed fears that an oversupply of solar modules could pressure panel manufacturers’ prices and profits.

On Thursday, SunPower said it would revise its 2011 outlook by the end of the quarter to reflect the changes in Italy.

“The solar industry is really experiencing a lot of pressure,” said Morningstar analyst Stephen Simko. “They’re going to have be to selling at prices lower than they expected.”

Italy was SunPower’s second biggest market in the first quarter, accounting for 17 percent of sales, executives said on a conference call.

Changes in Italian policy favor rooftop projects over larger solar power plants, a shift SunPower said it will benefit from because its panels are the most efficient in the industry at transforming sunlight into electricity.

“Rooftop space is constrained, so you would rather have a high efficiency product,” Chief Executive Tom Werner said in an interview.

Near term, SunPower said it would sell its pipeline of utility-scale projects in Italy and allocate more of its solar power products to the residential and commercial side of its business.

For the rest of the year, Werner said the United States and Germany “are going to be the growth engines.”

For the current quarter, San Jose, California-based SunPower forecast revenue of $500 million to $550 million, below analysts’ average estimate of $595.65 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Also on Thursday, SunPower reported a first-quarter net loss of $2.1 million, or 2 cents per share, compared with a net profit of $12.6 million, or 13 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 15 cents a share.

Quarterly revenue rose 30 percent to $451.4 million.

Last month, SunPower said first-quarter revenue would be about $450 million, below its previous forecast, and earnings per share, excluding one-time items, would be at the low end of a 15 cent to 21 cent range.

SunPower shares slipped to $21.09 after closing at $21.38 on the Nasdaq. Total is offering $23.25 a share for up to 60 percent of SunPower shares. (Additional reporting by Matt Daily in New York; Editing by Richard Chang, Steve Orlofsky and Gunna Dickson)

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