SunPower’s loss widened to $568.68m in Q4 2017

The company had reported that total operating expenses rose 2.7 times in the same quarter.

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  • Excerpts from original publication on Renewables Now

SunPower’s net loss attributable to shareholders widened to $568.68 million, or $4.07 per share, from $275.12 million, or $1.99 per share, a year earlier.

The company had reported that total operating expenses rose 2.7 times in the same quarter, largely due to a non-cash charge of $624 million related to its residential leases.

In spite of the wider GAAP loss, president and chief executive Tom Werner said the US solar company, which is majority-owned by Total SA, is pleased with the quarterly results.

The distributed generation business saw strong demand through the end of 2017, allowing the company to grow its footprint in the residential and commercial segments. The power plant business brought “significant cash” in the three months thanks to the sale of the 110-MW El Pelicano solar project in Chile to private equity firm Actis.

“In our upstream business, we are on track to achieve our long-term cost reduction targets and our Fabs remain at 100 percent utilization,” Werner said.

The company is making progress with installation of the first full-scale Next Generation Technology (NGT) manufacturing line at Fab 3. Volume production is to start in the second half of 2018.

Speaking on the tariffs placed on imported solar panels by the Trump administration, Werner said SunPower is already seeing a negative near-term impact as increased costs have caused delays for certain 2018 projects and made others economically unviable.

The company has put its USD-20-million US employment expansion on hold and is considering other “significant cost saving initiatives” so as to reduce the overall expense structure and improve its financial performance.

SunPower’s position in respect to the Section 201 trade action is that as a US-based company it should be differentially treated or excluded from all remedies.

Following the recent agreement to sell 8point3 Energy Partners, its solar yieldco joint venture with First Solar, SunPower intends to continue to identify and monetize assets. It also expects to monetise more than 400 MW of SunPower leases that are currently on the balance sheet. Thus it would “materially improve” liquidity, strengthen its balance sheet and simplify financial statements.

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