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Italy Deal Offers Good News in Bad Times for SunPower

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SunPower (s spwra), whose shares took a hit last week after it cut its fourth-quarter outlook, said today it’s inked a 4-year deal to supply its solar panels to Italy’s Ecoware. Under the contract, SunPower will ship at least 130 megawatts of its high-efficiency solar panels to Ecoware, a solar power plant integrator, starting in the first quarter of 2009. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

But the good news may not be enough to bolster SunPower’s faltering stock. It was dealt a blow today by Deutsche Securities, which downgraded the shares to hold from buy. At last check , shares of SunPower had fallen as much as 4.9 percent to change hands for $32.20.

SunPower wasn’t the only solar firm to feel the pain; Deutsche Securities also downgraded shares of Canadian Solar (s csiq), First Solar (s fslr), and Energy Conversion Devices (s ener) to hold from buy, along with Suntech Power Holdings (s stp), which it lowered to sell from hold.

SunPower’s shares lost more than a third of their value last Wednesday after the company said recent foreign exchange rate volatility would cut into its fourth-quarter and full-year 2009 earnings. The company expects the strengthening of the U.S. dollar against the euro will cut its fourth-quarter revenue by $17 million and its earnings by 15 cents per share. For fiscal 2009, the exchange rate will hit the company’s revenue by $50 million; earnings will be affected to the tune of 50 cents per share, SunPower estimated.

Energy Conversion Devices also did some Italian dealmaking today, announcing a contract to supply its Uni-Solar cells to Italy’s Marcegaglia, a steel manufacturing company. ECD, which makes solar cells through its United Solar Ovonic subsidiary, said the multiyear agreement will combine its solar cells with Marcegaglia’s integrated commercial roofing products to introduce solar-integrated metal roofing to the market in 2010.