After hours yesterday, we got a pair of reports out of the solar energy space. Both SunPower
SunPower turned in quarterly results that exceeded the Street's expectations. Revenue clocked in at a record-high $466 million, representing a 57% sequential lift. That was well ahead of the 40% improvement that management forecast last quarter. Production also hit a record of 110 megawatts. Gross margins of 19.1% (or 20.7% on a non-GAAP basis) were hurt in part by an $8.5 million writedown on some old third-party panels. Backing that out, margins actually ticked slightly higher sequentially.
Unfortunately, the revenue beat wasn't the only unexpected aspect of this earnings report. SunPower also narrowed its full-year revenue guidance. The top end of that range was cut from $1.7 billion to $1.5 billion. The average analyst estimate for the year recently stood at a touch more than $1.4 billion, so the after-hours sucker punch that SunPower shares received yesterday seemed harsh to this Fool.
Meanwhile, MEMC announced a very interesting purchase in conjunction with its quarterly earnings release. The wafer maker is acquiring Goldman Sachs
This move by MEMC would seem strange if it weren't so similar to the steps already taken by Chinese wafer players LDK Solar
After getting hammered during the downturn, it seems no one wants to occupy a narrow niche in the solar supply chain. Vertical integration is all the rage, though it's not clear that this model will work for everyone. Just as not every module maker is suited for in-house polysilicon production (remember when Trina Solar