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NEW YORK, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd STP.N on Wednesday posted a 61 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings, but the solar energy company's shares fell nearly 23 percent as its revenue results and outlook missed Wall Street expectations.
Net income increased to $50.6 million, or 29 cents a share, from $31.4 million, or 20 cents a share, a year earlier.
According to Reuters Estimates, the company had earned 30 cents a share before restructuring and amortization expenses from the acquisition of MSK Corp, while analysts on average were expecting 35 cents.
Revenue climbed 82 percent to $397.5 million, while analysts were expecting $413.9 million.
For the first quarter, Suntech forecast revenue of $370 million to $380 million, below analysts' estimates of $455.9 million, with slightly higher gross margin than the year-earlier period.
The company said it expected full-year revenue of $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion, while analysts on average had forecast $2.2 billion.
Suntech said it expected 2008 photovoltaic module shipments of 530 megawatts, with about 40 percent in the first half of the year.
The company said it expected greater quantities of reasonably priced silicon to become increasingly available from mid-2008.
"We believe that our silicon costs will fall more than twice as fast as our projections of our average sales prices in 2009," Chief Executive Zhengrong Shi said in a statement. "We are confident that this will enable Suntech to expand production and improve profitability in 2009."
Suntech said it was on track to reach its target of 1 gigawatt of installed photovoltaic cell production capacity by the end of 2008.
Share of Suntech fell $10.38, or 22.6 percent, to $35.51 in morning New York Stock Exchange trade, where it was the biggest percentage loser. (Reporting by Lisa Lee and Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)