After a better-than-expected earnings post sprinkled renewed aplomb on the future of the solar business, SunPower ( SPWRA) shares soared in the early morning. SunPower was skyrocketing in the early afternoon, gaining 24%, or $6.02, at $30.87 even. After the market close on Thursday, SunPower reported that earnings per share slipped to $24.2 million, or 26 cents a share, versus $31.2 million, or 37 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Excluding one-time items brought the solar concern's results to 24 cents a share. Revenues also dropped to $297.6 million from $382.8 million in the year-ago quarter, though both EPS and revenue shot up sequentially. Still, average analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected SunPower to post EPS at 13 cents on $263.3 million in revenue. "Additionally, our operational focus during the quarter enabled us to show progress in reducing inventory levels and in controlling variable expenses," CEO Tom Werner said. "Our long-term strategy to build our brand based on superior experience, technology and return is paying off. As a result, we have successfully adjusted pricing to maintain market share and our price premium." Following the news, both Collins Stewart and FBR Capital each upgraded SunPower, to hold from sell and to outperform from market perform, respectively.
SunPower also raised the low end of its 2009 revenue guidance to between 1.35 billion and 1.7 billion from 1.3 billion and 1.7 billion. Other solar stocks were rising in kind in the early going. Shares of First Solar ( FSLR), Suntech Power ( STP) and Evergreen Solar ( ESLR) were each gaining 7.5%, 4.3% and 5.5%, respectively.