Suntech Power Loses Money In Its 1st Quarter

NEW YORK (AP) — Suntech Power Holdings Co. lost money in its first quarter as shipments and prices for its solar panels fell.

The solar sector has struggled recently. A big ramp-up of production in China and weakening demand in Europe, the largest solar market, led to an oversupply of solar panels and drove down prices.

The Chinese solar energy company lost $133 million, or 74 cents per U.S.-traded share, for the three months ended March 31. That compares with a profit of $31.9 million, or 17 cents per U.S.-traded share, a year ago.

Analysts forecast a narrower loss of 49 cents per share, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue slid 53 percent to $409.5 million from $877 million as shipments dropped and the average selling price of photovoltaic products declined. This met Wall Street's expectations.

Shipments fell 22 percent from a year ago and 27 percent from the October-December quarter.

Chairman and CEO Dr. Zhengrong Shi said that the company had expected an even worse decline, of 30 percent, from the October-December quarter. Suntech predicted that shipments will rise more than 20 percent from the January-March quarter to the quarter that ends in June on improved demand.

Shares of Suntech, which is based in China, fell 5 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $1.93 in morning trading. Over the past year, the stock has traded in a range of $1.70 to $8.50 per share.