SunPower stock surges on good 4th quarter news

SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWRA), a company that manufactures highly efficient solar cells and panels, saw its stock price skyrocket Thursday, Feb. 17, and Friday after announcing banner profits in the fourth quarter of 2010 on Thursday afternoon.

By mid-morning Friday, the stock was up more than 7.5 percent to $18.74 per share.

The rise came on the heels of very good news in the company’s fourth quarter earnings statement Thursday.

In addition to reporting steep profit increases, CEO Tom Werner told reporters that SunPower is ramping up production while ratcheting down cost in 2011. He said the company is starting a comprehensive step-reduction process to eliminate the amount of time, space and money needed to produce SunPower’s extra-efficient solar photovoltaic panels and that the company expects to see its product cost $1 per watt by 2014.

While looking to make big improvements in the future, the SunPower executive team was not shy about patting itself on the back for the good work it did in 2010.

Revenue was up more than 46 percent, said Chief Financial Officer Dennis V. Arriola, from $1.52 billion in 2009 to $2.22 billion in 2010.

The company’s net income rose even more impressively, according to the released data, from $32.52 million in 2009 to $178.72 million in 2010.

While overall figures for 2010 were strong, the fourth quarter figures were downright impressive, rising from just $8.54 million in the fourth quarter of 2009 to $152.25 million in the last quarter of 2010.

"2010 was a great year, and we're extremely well-positioned to have a great 2011," Werner said during a press call.

The company has a backlog of demand that will take three months to fill, Arriola said. And it is in negotiations with dozens of other potential clients.

SunPower rose to become the number one provider of solar cells and panels in North America this year and is a top contender abroad as well. The company has extensive projects and big solar arrays in Europe, especially in Italy, where it negotiated a $195-million Euro bond initiative to build a major array.

“This is the first time solar financing has used this kind of structure,” said Julie Blunden, the executive vice president of corporate communications.

The company also noted that it signed an agreement with California’s Sun Edison to install 711 megawatts of solar power. That project should begin construction in 2013 and be finished by 2016, according to reports in the press call.

“We’re very optimistic about the future,” Arriola said.