Does SunPower’s New PV Products Tarnish Their Brand? $SPWRA

Normally, when SunPower introduces a new product,they put their PR machine in overdrive and journalists get assaulted bypress releases, briefings and conference calls.  So it’s a littlesurprising that SunPower has quietly unveiled a new product.

Yes, the leader in high efficiency solar panels, the world record holder for commercial-scale solar panel efficiency has released it’s newestproduct.

Drum roll please….

A polycrystalline-basedpanel, the Serengeti Series, with a 13.9  percent conversion efficiency.  Rimshot.      

A new product line, essentially a new direction for thecompany, somewhat counter to its technology-centric branding message –and this news was not announced in recent press briefings or press conferences with the governor

Thepanels appear to be intended for commercial applications.  SunPower has a relationship with Q-Cells — so the cells might be sourced from thatGerman vendor.  And SunPower has a relationship with contractmanufacturer Jabil and a recently announced CM arrangement withFlextronics. 

According to Auriga, aninvestment firm, "SunPower is using third-party suppliers for the cellsand is using outsourced contract manufacturing to assemble the modules;the modules are branded by SunPower.  We believe this is a measuredreaction to the loss of market share due to increased competition fromboth Chinese and Japanese module manufacturers.  In addition, we believe the use of multi-crystalline modules weakens SunPower’s competitiveargument that the company’s high-efficiency mono-crystalline modules can compete effectively versus the lower-priced Asian modules.  We continue to rate the shares of SPWRA with a Sell rating and find the stock ismeaningfully over-valued given the use of non-GAAP results." and "Webelieve this product offering will cause further margin compression onSunPower’s margin structure given that we find no premium in offering astandardized module."

In what would appear as a diversionarytactic to the conspiracy-minded, SunPower just announced their 19.5 percent efficienthigh output E19 series of solar panels.  

The usuallyresponsive SunPower PR organization has not yet responded to inquiries.



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