SunPower's net loss expands to 568.7m in Q4 2017

Sunpower modules. Author: pgegreenenergy. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.

February 15 (Renewables Now) - SunPower Corp (NASDAQ:SPWR) on Wednesday reported a wider net loss of USD 568.7 million for the last quarter of 2017, but it recorded a positive non-GAAP net profit of USD 35.8 million.

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 (EPA:FP), 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 on 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.

Results in USD Q4 2017 Q4 2016 2017 2016
GAAP revenue 658.1m 1.024bn 1.87bn 2.56bn
GAAP gross margin (2.3%) (3.1%) (0.8%) 7.4%
GAAP net loss 568.7m 275.1m 851.2m 471.1m
GAAP net loss per diluted share 4.07 1.99 6.11 3.41
Non-GAAP revenue 824m 1.10bn 2.13bn 2.7bn
Non-GAAP gross margin 11.9% 6.4% 11.1% 14.5%
Non-GAAP net profit (loss) 35.8m 3.3m (34.4m) 85m
Non-GAAP net profit (loss) per diluted share 0.25 0.02 (0.25) 0.60
Adjusted EBITDA 100.3m 71.4m 189.7m 311.9m
Operating cash flow 47.9m 486.1m (267.4m) (312.3m)

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 LP (NASDAQ:CAFD), its solar yieldco joint venture with First Solar Inc (NASDAQ:FSLR), SunPower intends to continue to identify and monetise assets. It also expects to monetise more than 400 MW of SunPower leases that are currently on the balance sheet. Thus it woul "materially improve" liquidity, strengthen its balance sheet and simplify financial statements.

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Veselina Petrova is one of SeeNews Renewables most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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