SunPower Cost-Cutting Doesn’t Impress Investors

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Like many other alternative energy stocks, SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) took a beating today as investors fled alternative energy stocks following Tuesday’s election. Incentives and subsidies are certain to come under scrutiny under a new presidential administration, and investors do not want to wait around for that shoe to drop.

SunPower reported third-quarter 2016 results after markets closed Wednesday afternoon. For the quarter, the solar panel maker reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.68 on adjusted revenue of $770.1 million. In the same period a year ago, SunPower reported earnings per share (EPS) of $0.13 on revenue of $441.4 million. Third-quarter results compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $0.38 and $777.94 million in revenue.

On a GAAP basis revenues totaled $729.3 million and a per-share net loss of $0.29. Adjustments to revenues included a loss of $19.3 million on yieldco 8point3 Energy Partners LP (NASDAQ: CAFD) and a loss of $40.1 million on utility and power plant projects, $57.8 million on a goodwill impairment, and $15.9 million on stock-based compensation expense, among other things.

The company also said it would reduce its inventory to improve cash flow; implement cost reduction programs to improve operating margins and lower 2017 operating expenses by about $350 million; reduce 2017 capex to around $100 million, a reduction of about 50%; and improve liquidity with the goal of generating positive cash flow and closing 2017 with about $300 million in cash.

SunPower also revised its 2016 guidance and now expects full-year adjusted revenue of $2.6 to $2.8 billion and gross margin of 9% to 11%. Prior guidance called for adjusted revenue of $3 to $3.2 billion and gross margin of 10.5% to 12.5%.

The company guided fourth-quarter adjusted revenues at $1 to $1.2 billion, gross margin of 1% to 3% and EBITDA of breakeven to $25 million.

Consensus fourth-quarter estimates call for revenues of $1.37 billion and earnings per share of $0.43. For the full-year analysts are looking for earnings per share of $0.30 and revenues of $2.99 billion. Those numbers are headed down after SunPower’s new guidance.

CEO Tom Werner said:

While prospects for long term solar industry growth remain strong, we are seeing a significant near term market dislocation in the solar market that we expect will impact our financial performance through 2017. … However, given the current market environment, we have made the decision to implement a companywide cost reduction program, along with other proactive strategic initiatives, to focus on improving cash flow through the current market dislocation while positioning the company to succeed in the next phase of industry growth. We intend to conclude our cost reduction analysis in the near future and will formally announce our restructuring program on December 7, 2016.

SunPower’s shares closed down 14.2% at $6.30 and traded down another 2.9% in after-hours trading, at $6.12 in a 52-week range of $6.00 to $31.10. The low was posted earlier today The consensus 12-month price target on the stock was $15.12 before results were announced.

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