SunPower Earnings Good Enough to Support Whole Solar Sector

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SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) released its corporate earnings shortly before the close rather than after the close, and the result is that another big solar move higher may be underway. The company beat on earnings and beat on revenues.

SunPower issued earnings of $0.22 per share versus a $0.10 estimate and sales were down almost 1% to $575 million. That drop may sound bad, but the expectations were only about $510 million. What is also interesting here at a time that solar companies are having a hard time is that GAAP gross margin was 9.3% versus 9.2% a year ago, and non-GAAP gross margin was 22.7% versus 12.7% a year ago.

The company claims that its results are from its superior solar panel technology combined with strong performance from rooftop and ground mount solar operations. SunPower also said that it has started initial construction of the 579-megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Projects for MidAmerican Solar and reached 90% completion on the California Valley Solar Ranch project owned by NRG Energy.

What will be a driving force here for the solar sector is that SunPower also claims that demand in the residential lease business remains solid and has again exceeded its expectations. SunPower shares gained a whopping 17% to $15.29 today. The stock hit a new 52-week high and its new 52-week range is $3.71 to $15.46.

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) rose late in the day, but it closed up only 1.35% at $46.40. if you will recall, First Solar blew away its earnings guidance as well.

SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) should have done well based upon the commentary, but a Goldman Sachs downgrade from this morning kept pressure there for it to close down 3.25% at $27.09. Equipment maker GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GTAT) was also lower on the day after cutting its at-risk order backlog from expectations. Shares did close down almost 5% at $3.67 today, but its shares were down around $3.54 before the SunPower news came out.

A late day pop was seen in the Guggenheim Solar (NYSEMKT: TAN) ETF and it closed up 2.2% at $20.39 on the day. Even the more diverse PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy (NYSEMKT: PBW) ETF saw a late day surge and it closed up 2.5% at $4.80.

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