North Coast Solar Stocks

December 10, 2009

Akeena to sell solar panels at retailer Lowe’s

Filed under: AKNS, SPWR, STP — Tags: , , , , — Jason @ 5:59 pm

Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:59pm EST

* All-in-one panels to sell at 21 Lowe’s stores for $893

* Part of company’s strategy to boost revenue

* Akeena shares close up 56 cents, or about 57 pct

By Laura Isensee

LOS ANGELES, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Akeena Solar Inc (AKNS) will start selling its all-in-one solar panels at Lowe’s Cos Inc (LOW) retail stores in California, Akeena said on Thursday, as the company looks to boost revenue.

The Los Gatos, California, company hopes to break even by selling panels at retail stores and to installers outside its home state, in addition to its traditional installation business. The move puts the company in competition with the likes of SunPower Corp (SPWRA, SPWRB) in selling panels.

“The key for us to get to the break-even level is to work on top-line revenue … This Lowe’s distribution gives us another channel where we can build that top line,” Akeena’s chief executive, Barry Cinnamon, said in an interview.

Cinnamon declined to say when Akeena expects to break even or how much revenue is expected from the new retail sales. But the executive said that Akeena expects a 15 percent gross margin on panels sold through Lowe’s.

Akeena’s panels hit the shelves on Thursday at 21 Lowe’s home-improvement stores in California. Each panel will sell for $893 and can plug into a regular electrical outlet, generating 175 watts or enough electricity to power a computer or 42-inch flat screen television.

The panel’s price falls to $625 after federal tax credits and could drop more depending on state incentives.

“The biggest significance is that now people can buy one panel or three or four panels (and spend) a few thousand dollars as opposed to tens of thousands of dollars,” Cinnamon said.

In October, the executive told Reuters the company was actively trying to sell its solar panels through big-box retailers.

The company says its panels — branded Andalay and manufactured by Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd (STP) — have 80 percent fewer parts to install than comparable products, reducing inventory logistics.

The panels include inverters — supplied by privately held Enphase Energy — that convert the direct electrical current to the alternating current used by household appliances.

Akeena has struggled to turn a profit and posted a narrower-then-expected quarterly loss in October.

The news sent the shares of the solar company soaring on Thursday. Shares of Akeena closed up 56 cents, or about 57 percent, at $1.55 each on the Nasdaq.

The company’s shares have climbed 167 percent since hitting a year-low of 58 cents in March.

Shares of Lowe’s Cos closed up 1.23 percent at $23.09 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Laura Isensee; editing by Andre Grenon and Steve Orlofsky)

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