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Tickers in this Article: TOT, FSLR, STP, SPWR
SunPower Corporation (SPWR), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, announced the launch of the industry's first combined warranty that covers both power and product for 25 years. The company is also shifting to a linear power warranty that offers the lowest power degradation over the life of the system.

SunPower is the only solar company to offer a straightforward 25-year global product warranty, which is 15 to 20 years longer than conventional solar warranties. Integrated into SunPower's high-efficiency solar panels are the company's patented Maxeon all-back contact solar cells which are built on a solid copper foundation, making them extremely resistant to cracking, corrosion and stresses from temperature variation. In the unlikely event a solar panel needs to be repaired or replaced, an identical or functionally equivalent panel will be provided or the cost of the panel will be fully refunded. The associated labor and transportation costs for customers whose solar panels were installed by SunPower or SunPower dealer/partners are covered. The new warranty is also written in plain, simple terms that detail the coverage.  

SunPower's new warranty now offers the industry's lowest power degradation with more warranted energy. The company guarantees at least 95% power for the first five years, followed by a maximum degradation rate of 0.4% each year thereafter. This results in an unprecedented 87% power level at the end of 25 years, warranting a total of 9.1% more energy than the industry standard over the first 25 years of the solar panel life.

The new warranty went into effect on July 1, 2012 and is available to all residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers installing SunPower solar panels.

SunPower is a vertically integrated solar company with presence across the entire solar value chain. The company designs, develops, manufactures, markets and sells high-performance solar electric power technology products, systems and services worldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers. The company's semiconductor-based solar cells and solar panels, which convert sunlight into electricity, are manufactured using proprietary processes and technologies. SunPower is largely owned by French oil major Total S.A. (TOT).

SunPower is witnessing falling ASPs and margins in its residential and small commercial markets segment which accounts for approximately two-thirds of its topline. We expect the trend to continue unabated in the near future with valuation further restrained by the higher cost structure of the company compared to its peers besides subsidy roll-back risk in Europe and foreign exchange risk.

SunPower presently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) that corresponds with our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

SunPower mainly competes with Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (STP) and First Solar, Inc. (FSLR).

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