SunPower is all about being a stellar provider of solar. 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. SunPower generates more than 50% its sales from large-scale solar projects (solar farms for utility companies to offer alternative energy) and a third from solar products and projects for residential and small commercial customers. The company has offices across the globe; the Americas account for the majority of the company's sales. SunPower is majority owned by France's TOTAL SA.
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 benefited from access to cash and credit (the deal included a $1 billion line of credit) that allows it to accelerate plans to expand solar panel production and develop large-scale solar farms. TOTAL has since increased its stake from 60% to 66%. (As part of the deal, SunPower acquired TOTAL subsidiary Tenesol SA, a solar provider based in France for $164.5 million in cash.)
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 sub-assembly capabilities are handled by third-party contract manufacturers in China, Mexico, and Poland.
The company owns the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) located in San Luis Obispo Country. CVSR is one of the world's largest solar power plants at 250 MW and powers the equivalent of approximately 100,000 homes.
SunPower's vertical integration is reflected in its business segments. Solar power components account for 31% of revenue while components assembled into solar power systems generate 63% of revenue. Residential leases are 4% with other revenues rounding out the total with 2%.
California-based SunPower generated more than three quarters of its sales from the Americas (primarily the US) in 2014. Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) accounts for about 10% of revenue, while the Asia-Pacific region accounts for the remainder.
The company has offices in Australia, England, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Africa, Spain, and the US. Outside the US, it has projects in Chile, Germany, and South Africa.
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.
SunPower's biggest customer is MidAmerican Energy Holdings, which accounts for 50% of sales.
SunPower's revenue rose about 21% in 2014 to $3.03 billion from $2.5 billion in 2013. The higher revenue came from the timing of recognition and significant progress being made on large scale solar systems. Sales in the Americas jumped 39% in 2014. Revenue in the Asia-Pacific region was up 9% with more sales of components under long-term supply agreements, mostly in Japan.
After rebounding in 2013 with a profit after two years of losses, SunPower's net income zoomed 157% higher in 2014. It made $246 million in 2014 compared to about $96 million in 2013. The jump was attributed to higher revenue combined with lower expenses. Cash flow from operations stood at $8.36 million at the end of 2014, a big drop from the $162 million in 2013. The drop was from changes in working capital.
SunPower is looking to grow in the consumer market with systems that are easier to install. Through an acquisition, the company obtained an architecture that enables direct installation of solar panels without having to mount additional components on a structure. SunPower's InvisiMount product comes with pre-assembled parts and integrated grounding reducing installation time.
In 2014 SunPower partnered with Internet search-giant Google to provide financing and support for approximately $250 million ($150 million provided by SunPower and the rest by Google) in residential solar power leases. Thousands of homeowners are expected to avail themselves of financing through the program.
The implemented a reorganization plan in 2014, aimed at realigning its resources with its strategy and improving efficiency and cost structure. The plan includes reducing headcount, mainly in Europe. Restructuring are expected to be between $15 million and $25 million, mostly for severance benefits, lease and related termination costs, and other associated costs.
Mergers and Acquisitions
SunPower bought SolarBridge Technologies in 2014, obtaining technologies that make installation was easier process. Austin, Texas-based SolarBridge has developed a microinverter for roof-ready alternating current solar panels. Panels with these factory-integrated microinverters can be directly installed, eliminating the need to mount or assemble additional components on the roof or the side of a home.
In 2015, SunPower acquired 1.5 gigawatts of US solar power plant development assets from Australia-based Infigen Energy. That gives SunPower ownership of projects in across 11 states.
In November 2013 SunPower acquired California-based Greenbotics, a supplier of panel cleaning products and services for large-scale solar power plants. The purchase expanded SunPower's energy services portfolio.