U.S. solar company SunPower Corp on Thursday reported a 22 percent drop in quarterly net income, but results blew past estimates as the company maintained market share and the price premium on its solar panels, sending shares up 15 percent after hours.

SunPower also raised its 2009 targeted revenue range, defying some on Wall Street who had been expecting it to cut its outlook.

Overall, this is a lot better than what many were anticipating, said Wedbush Morgan analyst Al Kaschalk, who added that SunPower's revenue and gross margins both topped his estimates, while the company also reduced inventory during the quarter.

Second-quarter net income was $24.2 million, or 26 cents per share, compared with $31.2 million, or 37 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 24 cents a share, topping Wall Street analysts' average estimate of 15 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue slid 22 percent to $298 million, also exceeding analysts' estimates of $261.22 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

SunPower adjusted its 2009 revenue view upward to a range of $1.35 billion to $1.7 billion from $1.3 billion to $1.7 billion.

A dearth of financing for solar projects combined with a pullback in solar tax breaks in Spain have led to a flood of solar panels on the market, driving down prices and profits.

SunPower's Chief Executive Tom Werner said in a statement that the company had benefited from growth in its dealer network, executing large projects, reducing inventories and controlling costs.

SunPower shares rose 15.3 percent to $28.63 after hours after closing at $24.84 on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom)