SunPower quarterly customer growth continues to drop, posts significant net loss for FY2023

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SunPower surveyed 1,500 homeowners to better understand the factors motivating them to consider solar. Image: SunPower.

US domestic solar company SunPower has posted a lowered customer growth for four quarters in a row and a net loss of US$247 million for FY2023.

In its latest announcement for the fourth quarter and full year financial results for 2023, SunPower said it only added 16,000 new customers in Q4, down from 18,800 (14.9%) in Q3 2023, and from 23,700 (32.5%) in Q4 2022. The company said lower year-on-year installations reflected the impact of reduced bookings since May 2023 under higher interest rates and net energy metering (NEM) 3.0 in California, as well as the winding down of NEM 2.0 installations.

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Peter Faricy, CEO of SunPower, said the company’s backlog reached 52,100 homes in Q4. “Retrofit backlog stood at 15,100, reflecting both our ability to execute on installations as well as a deliberate effort to resolve pending cancellations at year-end. New homes backlog remained mostly steady at 37,000, while new homes installations continued to improve and grew 19% in Q4 versus Q3,” he said.

The company’s revenue in Q4 and FY 2023 also decreased. In Q4, SunPower’s revenue was only US$356.9 million, down from US$498 million (28.3%) in Q4 2022. Its revenue for FY2023 decreased from US$1.74 billion (3.3%) in 2022 to US$1.69 billion. Net loss for FY2023 reached US$247 million, down from net profit of US$43 million for FY2022. In its Q3 financial results announcement, SunPower expected that its guidance on net loss for this year would be between US$165 million and US$175 million.

The adjusted EBITDA for FY 2023 was also down from US$70 million in FY2022 to -US$84 million. Last quarter, SunPower updated guidance on adjusted EBITDA for FY2023 between -US$25 million and -US$35 million.

However, SunPower CFO Beth Eby said the discrepancy between the guidance on adjusted EBITDA announced in the previous quarter and the final reporting can be attributed to restatement impacts and items. SunPower believed that these were one-time charges or not expected to recur.

FY2024 guidance

Looking ahead, SunPower posted its guidance on net loss for 2024 between -US$80 million and -US$160 million. For customer growth, SunPower did not provide an estimation, adding that its focus will be “on profitability and gross margin given uncertain market conditions”.

The guidance on adjusted gross margin will be between 17% and 19%, up from 14.6% in 2023. Regarding the adjusted EBITDA, SunPower said it would provide the figure later this year after a full evaluation of the impact of recent restructuring and recapitalisation.

Additional capital of US$175 million

Alongside the financial result announcement, SunPower has also raised US$175 million of second-lien debt from Sol Holding, the JV between TotalEnergies and GIP, including US$45 million previously funded to the company in December 2023 and January 2024, US$80 million in new investment, and a US$50 million second tranche that is available to be borrowed upon the satisfaction of certain conditions.

In addition, SunPower also obtained new long-term waivers from financial partners and entered into an amendment to its revolving debt facility, which provides it with access to an incremental US$25 million commitment for loans under its revolving debt capacity.

“This is a new opportunity for SunPower to reinforce our strong foundation as we continue to navigate an uncertain market in early 2024. With this funding and industry tailwinds of extended tax credits and lower equipment costs, we believe SunPower is positioned to execute on maximising the value proposition of solar and storage for our customers,” said Faricy.

Last December, SunPower announced that it had breached a credit agreement, sparking concerns over its ability to stay in business. In a regulatory filing, the company said the breach of the credit agreement had enabled the firms that had lent SunPower money for its projects to demand the immediate repayment of US$65.3 million or exercise other remedies, after the company failed to submit its third quarter financial results on time.

SunPower said it did not have the ability to borrow from the remaining capacity of US$53.7 million of revolving commitments as a result of the filing, but it had obtained a temporary waiver until 19 January 2024.

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