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SunPower to Revise Outlook; Italy Weighs

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- SunPower (SPWRA) reported revenue of $450 million and earnings per share of 15 cents in the first quarter after the close on Thursday, earnings that were in line with recently revised expectations, but said that the full year view remains uncertain due to the European subsidy changes.

SunPower's CFO Dennis Arriola, said in the earnings release, "We are in the process of optimizing our portfolio allocation geographically and across our downstream channels for the remainder of 2011. We expect to complete this process in the near future and plan to revise our 2011 guidance before the end of the second quarter to reflect the recent changes in Italy."

The company reaffirmed its full year shipment outlook even as Europe slows as a market for solar modules.

In announcing the 60% stake that European oil giant Total is planning to acquire in SunPower shares a few weeks ago, SunPower pre-reported its earnings guidance downward revision.

SunPower net income on a non-GAAP basis was $14 million, versus $143 million in the year ago first quarter and $5.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Gross margin on SunPower large-scale project business fell from 27.7% in the fourth quarter 2010 to 18% in the first quarter of the new year, while its residential and commercial business saw a slight margin decrease, from 23.8% to 23.1%.

SunPower's larger business in the first quarter was the large-scale business, with revenue at $245 million, versus $200 million from its higher margin residential and commercial business.

For the second quarter, SunPower is guiding to revenue of $500 million to $550 million, below the average analyst estimate of $598 million -- though the standstill in Italy has led analysts to conclude that many solar companies won't make second quarter numbers. The solar company reaffirmed its full year shipment target of 825 megawatts to 920 MW, though it highlighted the flexible allocation strategy being employed as a result of the uncertain conditions in Europe.

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