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Hoku Drops as Quarterly Loss Widens, Polysilicon Plant Delayed

Hoku Corp., a solar power developer and supplier, fell the most in almost six months, after its third quarter loss widened and management raised their estimate of costs to complete a polysilicon plant in Idaho.

Hoku dropped 14 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $2.44 as of 10:51 a.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Earlier it fell 8.1 percent to $2.37, its biggest percentage decline since August 19. It has retreated 7.6 percent this year.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Hoku’s loss was $3 million, or 6 cents a share, more than double the $1.3 million, or 6 cents, a year earlier, Honolulu-based Hoku said in a statement after the close of regular trading yesterday. Financing delays slowed construction and increased costs for the polysilicon plant it’s building in Pocatello, Idaho, said Chief Executive Officer Scott Paul.

“We are behind schedule, and we are over budget,” Paul said in the statement. “We will experience approximately three to six months of delays in completing construction of the first 2,500 metric tons of capacity.” The plant will eventually be able to produce 4,000 metric tons of polysilicon a year.

Costs to complete the first phase of construction will be about $600 million, and an additional $100 million will be needed to reach full capacity, he said. In May the company said it expected to spend about $400 million to reach capacity of 4,000 tons.

Hoku will “work with” customers regarding delays in polysilicon deliveries, which he now expects will begin in the second half of this year.

Tianwei New Energy Holdings Co., a Chinese integrated solar product maker, in September 2009 bought a 60 percent stake in Hoku Corp. and is its largest shareholder.

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