SunPower's Not-So-Sunny Profit, But Revenues, Outlook Brighter

SunPower, the San Jose, Calif.-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar panels, said on Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit fell due to growing costs, to $4.88 million, or 6 cents a share, from $11.3 million, or 15 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Wall Street didn’t like the sound of that, and sent SunPower’s shares down 14 percent in morning trading.

But higher costs are an industry-wide issue, as the market for the main component of solar products, polysilicon, has gotten tighter. And SunPower’s financials really weren’t so bad. The company said its fourth-quarter revenue nearly tripled, to $224.3 million from $74.5 million, and it raised its outlook for both its 2008 profit and revenue.

Of course SunPower CEO Tom Werner assured analysts and investors that the solar maker expects to have enough polysilicon to increase production sixfold by 2010. In the release he says the company’s technology improvements (which include using less silicon) and a “diversified set of silicon suppliers” will help mitigate the short supply.

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