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SunPower Earnings Miss Estimates After Slowing Sales in Europe

SunPower Corp., a U.S. maker of solar photovoltaic panels, reported first-quarter profit that was less than analysts’ estimates as sales slowed in Europe.

Earnings excluding some items were 15 cents a share, the San Jose, California-based company said today in a statement. That trailed the 17-cent average of 23 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose 30 percent from a year earlier to $451 million, which lagged behind the $484.6 million average estimate.

“Our revenue was lower than plan as a result of changing market conditions in Europe,” Tom Werner, SunPower’s president and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

Italy, the world’s second-largest solar market after Germany, said last week it will cut incentive rates for photovoltaic energy. “Revenues and inventory levels in the first quarter were impacted by the pause in business activity in Italy, as several projects awaited clarity on the new tariffs,” said Dennis Arriola, SunPower’s chief financial officer.

SunPower reported a net loss of $2.1 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with net income of $12.6 million, or 13 cents, a year earlier. The most recent quarter had costs totaling 35 cents a share that included such items as stock-based compensation, interest expenses and a loss on currency derivatives, as well as a tax-related gain of 18 cents.

Total SA, Europe’s third-biggest oil producer, agreed April 28 to buy as much as 60 percent of SunPower for $1.38 billion.

“Our relationship with Total will improve our capital structure enabling SunPower to accelerate our power plant and commercial development businesses, and expand our manufacturing capacity with lower cash requirements,” said Werner.

SunPower fell 18 cents to $21.20 at 5:35 p.m. in New York, after the close of regular Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

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