SunPower Plans New Factory to Gain Share as Demand Surges

SunPower Corp. (SPWR), the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, is planning a new factory that will boost production capacity by more than 50 percent from current levels, in an effort to gain market share.

SunPower’s Fab 5 may begin production in 2017 and will eventually be able to make at least 700 megawatts of solar panels a year, more than twice the size of a plant due to start up next year, Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said today.

SunPower is seeking to increase its capacity as global demand surges. Total industry shipments may increase as much as 29 percent to about 52 gigawatts this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. SunPower expects to recognize sales of 1.2 gigawatts to 1.3 gigawatts of panels this year, and its factories are running at full speed, Werner said.

“Our share has been in single digits for a while and demand for the last 24 months suggests that we can expand share,” Werner said in an interview today. “Our five-year plan is to at least double market share.”

Werner spends a “significant” amount of time talking to manufacturing executives about how to coax more output from factories that have reached capacity. “This is really the market telling us they want more of the product.”

The company’s Fab 4 in the Philippines will begin production in the first half of 2015, and will eventually have 350 megawatts of capacity. SunPower hasn’t determined where to build Fab 5, which Werner said will be at least twice that size. He wouldn’t say how much the new facility may cost.

SunPower reported net income of $14.1 million for the second quarter, or nine cents a share, compared with $19.6 million, or 15 cents a share, a year earlier, San Jose, California-based SunPower said today in a statement. Revenue fell 12 percent to $507.9 million.

Including revenue recognized for some utility-scale power plants and other one-time items, earnings of 28 cents beat the 26-cent average of 14 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

First Solar Inc. is the largest U.S. solar manufacturer.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ehren Goossens in New York at egoossens1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net Will Wade, Carlos Caminada

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