SunPower set to reach panel costs of $1.08 per watt

18. February 2011 | Industry & Suppliers | By:  Becky Stuart

SunPower says it is on track to achieve its efficiency-adjusted panel cost goal of USD$1.08 per watt in the fourth quarter of this year. It has also raised its revenue and earnings guidance.

SunPower 72 MW Montalto PV park

The sale of SunPower's 72 MW Montalto Solar Park added to the company's successful year. Image: SunPower.

The U.S. company reports an annual revenue growth of 46 percent, and says it achieved ending cash of more than USD$900 million in 2010. It adds that due to the "strong visibility" of its revenue plan for this year, it has hedged more than 65 percent of its expected European business at a rate of €1 to USD$1.34.

Last year was particularly successful for the company, due to several key factors, including the sale of its 250 megawatt (MW) California Valley Solar Ranch and 72 MW Montalto Solar Park; the execution of publicly-rated solar project bonds, at around €95 million; the dedication of a 1,400 MW Fab 3 joint venture in Malaysia; and the signing of three power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison, totaling 711 MW.

Furthermore, CEO Tom Werner says the acquisition of SunRay Renewable Ventures, "significantly contributed" to recognizing revenue on over 100 MW of power plants in Europe. He continues: "We also increased our global dealer network to 1,500 partners and are on our way to 2,000 partners this year. In addition, we commenced operations of our Fab 3 Malaysian joint venture and we are on track to produce more than a third of our solar cells at Fab 3 this year (...) Given our strong 2010 performance, robust downstream demand and strong visibility, we are confident in our ability to deliver on our improved 2011 plan."

Looking ahead

Having earned USD$937.1 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2010 (Q4 2009: USD$547.9 million), SunPower believes it will bring in between USD$475 million and USD$525 million in Q1 2011. For the full year, it forecasts its revenues of between USD$2.8 billion and USD$2.9 billion (2010: USD$2.2 billion).

The company achieved a GAAP gross margin of 25.4 percent in Q4 2010 (Q4 2009: 20.3 percent). In Q1 2011, it predicts a GAAP gross margin of between 19 and 20 percent. Overall, the company achieved a GAAP gross margin of 23 percent last year. This year, it is expected to decrease to around 20 to 22 percent.

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