Sunpower Corporation at a Glance

Uppers

  • One of the largest producers of solar panels, cells, and energy systems, with operations around the world.
  • Solid pay and a strong benefits package.

Downers

  • Recent layoffs.
  • Workdays can be long.

The Bottom Line

  • SunPower is one of the most recognizable names in the solar power industry, and a stint here looks good on a jobseeker's resume.

About Sunpower Corporation

SunPower is all about being a stellar provider of solar energy. The company makes solar panels and systems under the SunPower, SunTile, and PowerGuard brands, among others. It sells these products to dealers, distributors, and system integrators for use by residential, commercial, government, and utility customers around the world. While the company has offices across the globe, nearly 80% of revenue comes from customers in the US. SunPower is majority owned by France's TOTAL SA. In 2018 SunPower agreed to buy a SolarWorld Americas manufacturing plant to expand its US production capacity.

Operations

Sunpower operates through three end segments: residential, commercial, and power plant. 

The power plant segment accounts for more than 40% of revenue. SunPower established SunPower Solutions within the segment to supply products and services to utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) customers. 

The residential business, accounting for a third of revenue, offers the SunPower InvisiMount system, which is designed for use with panels and reduces installation time through pre-assembled parts and integrated grounding.

The commercial segment, 25% of revenue, offers products designed for a range of commercial rooftop, parking lot, and open spaces applications.

Geographic Reach

San Jose, California-based SunPower generates about 80% of its sales in the US with Japan accounting for about 5% of sales.

The company has manufacturing operations in the Philippines, Mexico, France, and Malaysia, and it maintains offices around the world.

Sales and Marketing

SunPower's 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 dealer network. 

SunPower's biggest customer is Actis GP, which accounts for about 15% of sales.

Financial Performance

SunPower's revenue has fluctuated in recent years and it has posted a net loss for the past three years. In 2017, sales dropped 27% to about $1.9 billion from 2016, driven mainly by reduced power plant segment revenue (down about 44%) as the company moves from global power plant development. Residential sales also dropped in North America while the commercial segment turned in stronger sales.

SunPower lost $851 million in 2017 compared to a loss of $471 million in 2016. The company took a $624 million non-cash impairment charge in 2017 on its residential lease portfolio, which it decided to sell.

The company's cash increased to $435 million at the end of 2017 from $425 million at the end of 2016. Capital expenditures included about $283 million for expanding the company's solar cell manufacturing capacity.

Strategy

SunPower reconfigured its power plant segment to focus on supplying equipment instead of developing projects. In late 2016, the company created its SunPower Solutions unit to offer its SunPower Oasis Power Plant platform to plant developers. The move diminishes the company's capital requirements and should increase cash flow through steadier equipment sales.

The company also has released new products including a storage technology as part of its Helix family of solar equipment offerings. Helix storage regular photo-voltaic cells and a battery to deliver the best performance for the property owner. 

The US government increased tariffs on foreign-made solar equipment and SunPower scrambled to avoid higher costs generated by its overseas manufacturing facilities. The company applied for an exemption to the tariff and agreed to buy SolarWorld Americas' manufacturing facility in Hillsboro, Oregon to increase its production capacity in the US. SunPower planned to make improvements at the factory and retrofit a portion of the plant to make its P-Series solar panels.

SunPower sought to monetize assets that were not critical to its strategic plans to reduce debt and increase capital for investment. As part of that initiative, it sold its stake in 8point3 Energy Partners, a joint venture with First Solar. The company also sold interests in two solar projects in Chile and planned to sell its residential lease portfolio.

Mergers and Acquisitions

SunPower's 2018 deal for SolarWorld Americas production plant was driven by tariffs on imported solar panels. SunPower hoped to use SolarWorld's manufacturing capacity in Hillsboro, Oregon to make solar panels for the US market. The tariffs were imposed to slow import of foreign-made panels, which put SunPower in a tough spot since it supplies its US sales with panels made in its Mexico and Philippines manufacturing operations. The acquisition would make SunPower the largest solar panel maker in the US.

 

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Sunpower Corporation

77 Rio Robles
San Jose, CA 95134-1859
Phone: 1 (408) 240-5500
Fax: 1 (408) 240-5400

Stats

  • Employer Type: Public
  • Stock Symbol: SPWR
  • Stock Exchange: NASDAQ
  • Chairman, President, and CEO: Thomas H. Werner
  • EVP Global Operations: Bill Mulligan
  • Chairman, President, and CEO: Thomas H. Werner
  • 2017 Employees: 7,306

Major Office Locations

  • San Jose, CA