Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP), the world’s biggest maker of solar panels, and SunPower Corp. led solar stocks higher today after reporting fourth-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates.
Suntech, based in Jiangsu, China, climbed 8.3 percent to $3.65 at the close in New York. SunPower (SPWR), a solar company majority-owned by Total SA, rose 8.7 percent to $8.13. The Bloomberg Global Leaders Solar Index (BLGS) of 37 companies gained 3.6 percent.
Demand for solar panels surged in the fourth quarter as developers tried to complete projects before declines in government subsidies from countries including Germany, the world’s largest market. Global solar installations climbed 66 percent last year to 27.6 gigawatts, according to Bloomberg Industries.
“Even after the cuts in Germany, you’re seeing the demand being robust,” said Hari Chandra Polavarapu, a solar industry analyst at Auriga USA LLC in New York. In the U.S., the expiration of a Treasury Department grant program in December also led to rapid panel deployment, he said. “The cash grant was expiring and everyone was trying to beat the deadline.”
For SunPower, fourth-quarter profit excluding one-time items was 16 cents a share, the San Jose, California-based company said in a statement yesterday. Analysts had expected a loss of 6 cents, the average of 13 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Suntech’s shipments last year reached 2.09 gigawatts, more than its previous guidance of 2 gigawatts, the company said in a statement today. Sales in the fourth quarter were in the range of $610 million to $630 million, more than the $552 million average of 22 analysts’ estimates.
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