SunPower is all about being a stellar provider of solar. The company makes solar panels and systems under the SunPower, SunTile, and PowerGuard brands. It sells these products to dealers, distributors, and system integrators for use by residential, commercial, government, and utility customers around the world. SunPower generates roughly half its sales from large-scale solar projects (solar farms for utility companies to offer alternative energy) and half from solar products and projects for residential and small commercial customers. The company has offices across the globe; the Americas (primarily the US) accounts for most of sales.
French energy giant TOTAL bought a controlling stake in SunPower for about $1.4 billion in 2011 to boost its presence in the renewable energy sector. SunPower will benefit from access to cash and credit (the deal includes a $1 billion line of credit) that will allow it to accelerate plans to expand solar panel production and develop large-scale solar farms. In early 2012 TOTAL increased its stake in SunPower to 66% (now 69%) in conjunction with SunPower's acquisition of TOTAL subsidiary Tenesol for more than $165 million in cash.
SunPower generated about 70% of its sales from the Americas (primarily the US) in 2012, up considerably from the prior year as federal and state governments offered incentives for solar projects. European governments, on the other hand, reduced some incentives, which hurt the company's growth in the EMEA region (down nearly 50% year-over-year). The company has offices in Australia, England, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Spain, and the US.
Sales and Marketing
The company' large-scale solar products and systems are sold through its own direct sales force; solar equipment for residential and commercial customers is also sold directly, as well as through a network of some 1,800 dealers. SunPower has sales personnel and dealers in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and the US.
NRG Solar accounted for about 35% if the Americas' revenue in 2012.
SunPower has experienced solid revenue growth over the past decade as the demand for renewable energy increases across the globe and governments encourage solar projects. In 2012 the company reported sales of $2.4 billion, up 2% from 2011. The results were driven by large-scale utility projects in North America as the US continued to see government-sponsored inducements for solar projects. Reduced government incentives across Europe resulted in a drop in revenue for that region of nearly 50%.
The company recorded a net loss in 2012 of $352 million, which is up from a loss of $604 the prior year.
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SunPower is looking to grow in North America. Its assembly plant in California opened in 2011, operated as a joint venture with contract manufacturer Flextronics. The US plant produces 75 MW per year of solar panels for rooftops and power plants. It also announced plans to build another plant in Mexico. In addition, SunPower expanded an operations center in Austin, Texas, with about $3.5 million in incentives from the state and local governments.
SunPower is a vertically integrated manufacturer, operating joint ventures to involve itself along all steps of the supply chain. Its joint venture Woongjin Energy in South Korea melts polysilicon into crystalline ingots. The ingots are sliced into wafers by its joint venture with First Philec Solar Corporation in the Philippines. The wafers are then processed into solar cells and panels at two manufacturing plants in the Philippines and by its joint venture with AU Optronics in Malaysia. Other panel subassembly capabilities are handled by third-party contract manufacturers in China, Mexico, and Poland.
In a move to cut costs, the company has introduced several restructuring measures over the last couple of years. It reduced its workforce in both 2011 and 2012 and in late 2012 streamlined manufacturing operations in the Philippines.