SunPower Falls on Slumping Panel Prices Drive Wider Loss

SunPower Corp., the second-largest U.S. solar manufacturer, declined after slumping prices for photovoltaic panels contributed to a wider fourth-quarter loss.

SunPower fell 5.6 percent to $7.93 at the close in New York. Earlier it dropped as much as 10 percent, the most intraday since Jan. 7.

The fourth-quarter net loss widened to $144.8 million, or $1.22 a share, from $93 million, or 94 cents a share, a year earlier, as panel prices plunged, San Jose, California-based SunPower said yesterday in a statement. The company was expected to lose 78 cents a share, the average of four analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

“We look at this as the most overvalued stock in the solar space,” Pavel Molchanov, a Raymond James & Associates Inc. analyst in Houston, said in a note to investors today. Molchanov reiterated his rating, the equivalent of sell, “in the context of our generally negative view on the structurally oversupplied module market.”

SunPower, majority-owned by French oil company Total SA, and its competitors are contending with a global oversupply that pulled down panel prices industrywide by 31 percent last year to 64 cents a watt.

The company produced 153 megawatts of panels in the fourth quarter and 936 megawatts in all of 2012. It expects to produce 150 megawatts to 170 megawatts in the current quarter.

First Solar, the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer, produced 1.36 gigawatts of panels through the third quarter and said Nov. 1 that it expected to ship 1.2 gigawatts of panels for the year.