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SunPower's Repeat News Irks Investors

SunPower shares fall as word of 20 MW in new government contracts piggybacks the 15 MW contract it announced earlier this month.

(SunPower contract article updated with additional commentary and stock prices.)

SAN JOSE, Calif. (


) --



shares reversed early gains to close several points lower despite word from the solar company of a new government contract.

SunPower said early Monday it will install a minimum of 20 megawatts (MW) of new solar projects for several U.S. government properties including the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), the General Services Administration (GSA), the Navy and the Air Force.

SunPower expects to create more than 1000 local jobs during the construction of these projects.

Shares of SunPower gained in early trading Monday but the increase was short-lived. The stock spent most of the day in negative territory, and closed lower by 6.2%, to $10.53.

"I think part of the problem was that 15 MW of the 20 MW was already announced earlier this month," Wedbush Securities Analyst Christine Hersey told



Recent government contracts won by SunPower include a 2-MW system at an NREL facility in Colorado and a 1.8-MW system at a GSA site in Indiana. SunPower and four other solar providers were chosen by Naval Facilities Command to deliver solar power systems of up to 40 MW to Navy and Marine Corps installations throughout the southwestern United States over the next five years. Earlier this month SunPower announced an agreement with Arizona Public Service to design and construct a power system at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona.

Monday's 20-MW contract announcement included the 15 MW contract with Luke Air Force Base, explained Hersey. In other words, three quarters of SunPower's announced contract Monday had already been priced in to SunPower's stock and was considered "old news," Hersey said. "So the headline looks better."

SunPower's shares closed up nearly 11% Friday after equity research firm

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Soleil Securities upgraded SunPower's stock to buy from hold

, noting that "checks indicate that a large volume of system development business in the PV sector is going to be finalized in the fourth quarter of this year."

>> SunPower Shines on Analyst Upgrade

Soleil expects SunPower to post earnings of 90 cents per share over the next fourth months.

Last week solar industry peer

Trina Solar


experienced mixed broker action, a day after the Chinese manufacturer of solar photovoltaic products

beat earnings expectations and upped its forecast for solar shipment volume


>> Trina Solar Slides on Mixed Analyst Views

"Trina is speaking for the group and we've heard similar stories from all of Trina's Chinese peers and from

First Solar

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in the U.S.," Auriga analyst Mark W. Bachman told


. By reporting last in the queue of earnings reports in the sector, Trina had more time to look at future demand and was therefore the first to give a real indication that demand in 2011 will be stronger.

Bachman reiterated his buy recommendation, and upped his price target by $5 to $41 per share.

Trina raised its capacity numbers for growth between 40% and 50%, and expects to achieve scale of 1.5 gigawatts by the end of 2011.

>> Trina Solar Forecasts Brighter Future


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raised its price target on Trina Solar's ADRs

by 20% to $36 per share, and reiterated its buy rating on the Chinese solar company's stock. Citi tapped Trina Solar as its "favorite" pick in the solar sector. Research firm

Ardour Capital

hiked its price target on Trina Solar by 23.1% to $32 per share, from $26, and reiterated its buy rating.

All were not bullish, however.



issued a downgrade on Trina's stock to neutral from overweight.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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>> SunPower Shines on Analyst Upgrade

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