SunPower sold out for 2011: project pipeline stands at 5GW

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Despite an ongoing ramp of its Malaysia-based Fab 3 cell production plant that will increase its megawatt production by 65% in 2011, Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower, noted in its third-quarter financial conference call that demand for its products exceeded supply both in the second-half of this year but also going into 2011. 

The leading high-efficiency solar module manufacturer and project developer posted revenue of US$554 million, up 41% over the second quarter of 2010, and an increase of 19% compared to the third quarter of 2009. SunPower expects revenue to reach between US$2.15 billion and US$2.25 billion in 2010. Its PV project pipeline now stands at 5GW, up from 4GW last year. 

In his prepared remarks, Werner said“In the North American commercial business, we are approximately 70% booked for 2011, and have built the pipeline to record levels. Similarly, in North American UPP [utility and power plants], we are approximately 95% booked for 2011, and in our EMEA UPP channel, we have identified projects for our entire 2011 panel allocation.”

“Geographically, our top three markets were Italy, the U.S. and Germany, in terms of both megawatts and revenues. Utility and power plants revenue more than doubled in the third quarter to US$261 million compared to US$128 million in the second quarter of 2010. The strong performance was primarily driven by our successful execution in Italy and the build-out of projects in the U.S.,” noted Werner.

In the residential and commercial segment, SunPower reported revenue of US$293 million in the third quarter, compared to US$264 million in the second quarter. The company has been capacity constrained for most of the year. 

However, Werner noted that production had actually increased in the quarter due to  Fabs 1 and 2 in the Philippines delivering record performance in cell production, as overall equipment effectiveness and improved average solar cell conversion efficiencies and yields were achieved. 

“On the cost side, we are on track to achieve our Q4 2011 plan of US$1.08 per watt efficiency adjusted panel cost relative to conventional crystalline silicon technology,” added Werner. 

Capital expenditures in the third quarter were $4.3 million and should be in the range of $125 million to $150 million for the full year. During the third quarter, $2 million in capital was contributed to the Fab 3 JV.

SunPower produced 152MW of modules in the quarter and plans to exceed its previous plan of 550MW by year-end as module production ramps in Malaysia. Module production in the second quarter was 137.9MW. 

With projects due for completion in the fourth quarter, SunPower guided revenue for the quarter to be in the range of US$870 million and US$970 million. Typically conservative with guidance, SunPower could be on track for a US$1 billion sales quarter.

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