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Suntech Rally a 'Head-Fake'

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Suntech Power (STP) pre-reported earnings on Monday morning, and Wells Fargo Securities put out a research note saying that the rally in Suntech shares was an earnings pre-report "head fake."

In the middle of earnings season, an investor might expect an actual earnings report as opposed to a pre-report, but Suntech was only ready to provide select pieces of its first quarter on Monday morning. The Suntech Power decision to pre-report on Monday morning revenue that would be ahead of the Street consensus also came amid the big rally morning in solar, as news of a European bailout package sent the solar sector up.

Suntech Power shares had been among the solar stocks to reach a 52-week low last week amid the big selloff as the euro slid. Granted, even after its more than 10% gain on Monday morning -- the largest among solar stocks -- Suntech shares were still below $12, which on any date before last week's euro-triggered slide would have still been a 52-week low mark.

In fact, solar shares fell so low and so precipitously last week that there were several interesting analyst calls on Monday morning amid the big solar rally. Auriga Securities upgraded SunPower (SPWRA) to hold, but for no other reason than that SunPower shares had fallen so low last week, the shares were finally below the level of Auriga's very low expectations. Auriga analyst Mark Bachman referred to the change in SunPower's rating as an unenthusiastic upgrade.

What the Suntech Power pre-report left out -- what it would earn per share -- was as important, if not more so, than the earnings data that Suntech Power decided to deliver ahead of its earnings.

Suntech said that revenue of $580 to $590 million would easily beat the consensus of $546.3 million, and that its gross margin target of 18% to 20% was being revised slightly higher to 19% to 20%.

However, the foreign exchange charge that solar analysts and investors knew was coming was also in the Suntech pre-report, as the Chinese module maker attempted to couch the currency loss amid the positive revenue news and solar rally. The Chinese solar module maker is estimating that there will be a charge of $24 million to $25 million due to the euro slide, versus a hedging gain of $2 to $3 million.
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