SunPower executives expressed an optimistic outlook as they announced third-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street expectations Thursday.

But the company's shares dropped about 11 percent in recent trading as it lowered its earnings outlook for 2009. SunPower now expects to generate between $1.43 billion to $1.5 billion in sales for the year, resulting in $0.50 to $0.60 per share.

Previously, the San Jose, Calif.-based company had expected to post $1.35 billion to $1.7 billion in sales and $0.45 to $0.90 per share.

Executives from SunPower told analysts that they are boosting solar panel production and looking at lining up other solar panel makers to provide products for the company's power plant building business.

"Our Q3 performance reinforces the advantage of our vertically integrated model," said Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower. "We see strong demand into 2010."

On the technology front, the company plans to start shipping its Gen 3 cell in 2010. The company already can produce Gen 3 cells with 24 percent efficiency, Werner said. The cells in mass production have about 22 percent efficiency.

In the third quarter this year, SunPower generated $466 million in sales, a boost from $378 million in the third quarter in 2008.

Net income for the third quarter was $12.8 million, or $0.13 per share, compared with $24.7 million, or $0.29 per share from a year ago. Some one-time charges, including $5.3 million in non-cash interest charges associated with a new way of accounting for interest expense for convertible bonds.

Excluding one-time charges, the company's earnings per share reached $0.42, above the $0.40 per share expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

SunPower executives highlighted power plants it recently completed or are under construction to show its ability to attract project financing. The company is building a 24-megawatt project in Montalto, Italy.

Back in June, SunPower said it had lined up $100 million from Wells Fargo to finance power projects in the United States.

"Since capital is scarce, banks want to build relationship and avoid technology risks," said Dennis Arriola, SunPower's chief financial officer. "We are finding that SunPower is a company that banks want to do business with around the world."

The company expects to close more project financing before the end of the year," Arriola said.