SunPower Reports Loss as It Holds Onto More Solar Power Assets

SunPower Corp. reported its first loss in two years as the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer pursues a new strategy to keep control of certain power assets instead of selling them.

The net loss was $9.6 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with profit of $65 million, or 42 cents, a year earlier, San Jose, California-based SunPower said in a statement Thursday. Excluding one-time items, per-share profit was more than the 8-cent average of eight analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

SunPower said in February its plan to put some power plants and a group of rooftop solar systems into a joint venture with competitor First Solar Inc. would reduce profit. The so-called yieldco will be publicly traded and a guaranteed buyer of their assets, reducing capital costs. The entity, which will be controlled by its parents and named 8Point3 Energy Partners LP, offers investors steady returns from long-term power contracts.

SunPower slashed its first-quarter guidance 90 percent after announcing the joint venture, dropping it to 5 to 15 cents a share from as much as $1.50 on an adjusted basis. It withdrew its forecast for 2015 profit without providing new figures.

China will be the company’s fastest growing region in the next five years, Chief Executive Officer Tom Werner said in an April 24 interview with Bloomberg Radio. SunPower and Apple Inc. are building two 20-megawatt solar power plants in China’s Sichuan Province.

The earnings were released after the close of regular trading in U.S. markets. SunPower has gained 25 percent this year.

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