Monday, November 5, 2012

SunPower and First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) Had a Stellar Quarter despite Price Cuts of Solar Panels

It has been a good quarter for U.S. solar companies First Solar, Inc.(NASDAQ:FSLR) and SunPower Corporation(NASDAQ:SPWR) because of cost reductions and a host of lucrative projects that helped combat the effect of weak prices due to widespread over-availability of solar panels.

First Solar cut its full-year revenue outlook because of supply constraints from Hurricane Sandy and cut down its operating cash flow view for restructuring costs and weather-related project delays. The company reduced its operating cash flow view for 2012 to between $650 million and $850 million. Its previous view was $850 million to $950 million.

SunPower did well in terms of profits, with a 36% rise in Q3 due to its residential solar lease program being extended and big-scale utility projects.

Unlike Chinese solar companies, SunPower and First Solar develop solar power plants that are powered by their panels. Baird solar analyst Ben Kallo states that this quarter will be bad for all other solar companies except First Solar and SunPower because of their steady and large downstream channel for their manufactured products.

s per analyst at Ben Kallo, First Solar’s total revenue is expected to be around $8.9 billion in 2012, from $9.4 billion at the end of last year, which means business is not slowing down at an alarming rate as Kallo had feared. The company’s cadmium telluride panels came at the lowest cost in the solar industry, where silicon-based panels rule the roost. But the problem came up when the prices on traditional silicon panels plummeted sharply. Shares went down almost 90%.

The global abundance of solar panels happened due to increased production from Chinese panel makers, which affected prices enormously. There were numerous European and U.S. solar companies that had to shut shop even as others had to file for bankruptcy. SunPower is coping with the aid of downsizing 15% of its personnel which mean 900 jobs. 

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