Thursday, January 3, 2008

Suntech and Akeena in Distribution Deal

2008 The Associated Press

LOS GATOS, Calif. — Akeena Solar Inc. said Wednesday it licensed Suntech Power Holdings Co. to distribute its Andalay solar-panel technology in Europe, Japan and Australia starting this month.

The solar-products companies did not disclose financial terms of the agreement.
Akeena shares surged $3.69, or 46.4 percent, to $11.65 in pre-market trading after closing at $7.96 on Monday. Suntech stock rose $1.68, or 2 percent, to $84. It closed at $82.32 on Monday.

Andalay products have lower installation costs because of built-in wiring, grounding and racking, Akeena Chief Executive Barry Cinnamon said in a statement. He described the products as having "outstanding aesthetics," because they are black and streamlined. Some consumers find the appearance of solar rooftop systems unappealing, seeing them as large and clunky.

"We are experiencing very strong demand for Andalay, and this licensing agreement with Suntech will allow us to meet our customer's needs for Andalay outside of our direct channels in the U.S.," Cinnamon said.

The companies already have an agreement with China-based Suntech to manufacture the technology. Suntech aims to sell Andalay products with more than 10 megawatts of annual generating capacity next year.

One megawatt of energy is enough to power about 778 households a year, according to the Department of Energy.

LDK 2008 Guidance: Higher Revenues, Lower Margins

The company expects revenue of between $960 million and $1 billion this year, with margins of between 26 and 31 percent.

by: Jennifer Kho
January 02, 2008

LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) share prices closed up 5 percent Wednesday after the company said it expects to post revenue of between $960 million and $1 billion in 2008, with a gross margin of between 26 and 31 percent.

Though the company hasn't yet posted fourth-quarter earnings, the 2008 outlook is a big jump from the expected earnings of between $511.2 million and $516.2 million for the full year of 2007. But the prediction indicates the company's gross margin -- which shrank to 30.8 percent in the third quarter, down from 35.2 percent in the second quarter and 39.4 percent in the year-ago quarter -- could continue to fall.

According to the financial outlook, the company expects solar-wafer shipments of between 510 and 530 megawatts, with polysilicon production of between 100 and 350 metric tons this year.
LDK Solar also said it expects a gross margin of between 42 and 50 percent in 2009, with wafer shipments of between 1.05 and 1.15 gigawatts and polysilicon production of between 5,000 and 7,000 metric tons.

The stock closed at $49.37 per share Wednesday, which is off 35.7 percent from a 52-week peak of $76.75 per share in September.

The company faced allegations that it had misstated its polysilicon inventory, a major factor in determining profitability during the current worldwide shortage of solar-grade silicon.

In December, LDK announced that an independent audit found "no material errors" in its accounting, and the company posted a third-quarter profit that met analyst expectations and exceeded the company's guidance. Its profit jumped 40 percent from the second quarter and eightfold from the year-ago quarter.

But analysts and shareholders were unimpressed. Citing unanswered questions, Piper Jaffray downgraded the stock to "Sell," and Lazard Capital Markets and CIBC World Markets maintained "Sell" and "Sector Underperformer" ratings. And shares fell 34.2 percent to $45.04 per share by Dec. 19, the end of the week of the announcement.

In a research note published at the time, Piper Jaffray analyst Jesse Pichel called the company's polysilicon-manufacturing targets "overly aggressive" and said that "uncertainties still exist" with respect to shareholder lawsuits and the company's low silicon costs.

LDK still faces a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and a class-action lawsuit but says it is confident of the independent audit's findings.