SunPower sees falling profits; lowers FY guidance

While the U.S.-based photovoltaic panel manufacturer’s profits showed improvement on Q2 2011, with GAAP net loss falling from US$147.9 million to $82.4 million, the figures were down from the net loss of $74.5 million seen in Q1 2012. Looking at its non-GAAP figures however, a net income for Q2 2012 of $9.8 million was recorded, compared to a sequential loss of $13.5 million and an annual loss of $18.4 million.

Meanwhile, Q2 2012 GAAP operating loss remained at $50.7 million from Q1 2012, but was an improvement on the $100.1 million lost in Q2 2011. GAAP operating expenses, on the other hand, rose from $96 million in Q1 2012, and $119.4 million in Q2 2012, to reach $124.2 million in Q2 2012. This is compared to non-GAAP operating expenses of $65.9 million in Q2 2012, down from $79.6 million in Q1 and $$77.9 million on the previous year.

In terms of revenues, SunPower exceeded the lower end of its guidance – $560 million to $635 million – to achieve GAAP sales of $595.9 million. This is up on both Q1 2012, which saw sales of $494.1 million and Q2 2011, which achieved $592.3 million. In non-GAAP terms, a revenue of $650.7 million was recorded, compared to $580.1 million in Q1 and $592.3 million in Q2 2011.

Again exceeding the lower end of its guidance of between 12 to 14 percent, Q2 2012 GAAP gross margin reached 12.3 percent, sequentially and annually up from 9.2 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. Non-GAAP figures recorded a gross margin of 15.1 percent, again up on the 12.7 percent seen in Q1, and 12.5 percent in Q2 2011.

GAAP net loss per diluted share saw more losses, from $-0.67 in Q1 2012 (non-GAAP: $0.12), to $-0.71 (non-GAAP: $0.08) in Q2 2012. However, improvement was seen from the previous year, which saw a net loss per diluted share of $1.51 (non-GAAP: $0.19).

Markets

While SunPower is finding Europe to be a "very challenging" market, the company said it is pursuing a number of strategies to strengthen its presence there. Its main focus is on the rooftop segment. It added that the North American residential segment is strong, with the company having doubled the number of signed leases in Q2 compared to Q1. "In Asia, demand in Japan remains strong and we are well positioned for future growth through our partnership with Toshiba," it stated, adding that opportunities are also present in Saudi Arabia, through its partnership with Total.

In terms of MW produced, Q2 2012 saw a decline from 288 MW in Q1 to 257 MW, but an increase from the previous year, which recorded 205 MW.

Looking ahead

For Q3, SunPower forecasts GAAP revenues of between $545 million to $620 million (non-GAAP: $550 million to $625 million), a gross margin of eight to 10 percent (non-GAAP: 10 to 12 percent), and a net loss per diluted share of $-0.25 to $-0.10 (non-GAAP: $-0.25 to $-0.10).

Meanwhile, for the full year, the company has slightly lowered its GAAP and non-GAAP revenues. Previously, it was hoping to achieve both GAAP and non-GAAP revenues of between $2.6 billion to $3 billion. Now, it is targeting GAAP revenues of $2.4 billion to $2.6 billion, and non-GAAP revenues of $2.6 billion to $2.8 billion. It has further lowered its MW recognized from 900 to 1,200 MW, to 900 MW to 1,050 MW.

"SunPower remains committed to achieving break even or better non-GAAP profitability and a year-end unrestricted cash balance of more than $300 million, while investing in cost reduction initiatives," it said in a statement released.

Commenting on the company’s Q2 performance, Tom Werner, president and CEO, added, "Operationally, we had a very strong quarter related to cost reduction as our blended cost per watt declined more than 10 percent sequentially as we benefitted from higher yields, further execution on our manufacturing step reduction program and lower raw material costs. As a result, we are accelerating our fourth-quarter blended panel cost per watt goal by more than 10 percent and expect to achieve a cost per watt of less than $0.75 on an efficiency adjusted basis on our lowest cost solar panels as we exit 2012, a full year ahead of schedule.

"Additionally, the commercial production of our Maxeon Gen 3 solar cell technology, with efficiencies of up to 24 percent, is on track and we are increasing shipments of our 21 percent efficiency panel to customers."