Canadian Solar expects better times after Q1 loss

Canadian Solar supplied solar modules to Delhi International Airport in India.

May 30 (Renewables Now) - Canadian Solar Inc (NASDAQ:CSIQ) today said it turned to an attributable net loss of USD 17.2 million (EUR 15.4m) in the first quarter of 2019 from profits in both the previous and the year-earlier quarter, but guided for a better second quarter.

While the solar module maker and power producer posted a quarterly net revenue that was significantly lower than in October-December 2018 and January-March 2018, the top line still surpassed the company’s projections for a range of USD 450 million-480 million.

More details about Canadian Solar’s Q1 financial performance are available in the table below.

Figures in USD, unless otherwise noted Q1 2019 Q4 2018 Q1 2018
Net revenue 484.7m 901.0m 1.42bn
Gross margin (%) 22.2 28.3* 10.1
Operating profit 6.6m 136.6m 78.2m
Net profit (loss) attributable to Canadian Solar (17.2m) 111.6m 43.4m
Net earnings (loss) per diluted share (0.29) 1.81 0.72

Including the benefit of a CVD reversal of USD 16.1 million, gross margin in Q4 2018 was 30.1%.

The year-on-year drop in revenue and profit is due to significant project sales and higher solar module prices in the prior period. Yan Zhuang, acting CEO of Canadian Solar, meanwhile, explained why the results were also down quarter-on-quarter.

"After achieving close to 140% growth of net profit in 2018 from the 2017 level, we reasonably expected a healthy pause in the first quarter of 2019 due to the acceleration of some high-profit project sales from 2019 into 2018, the appreciation of the RMB, lost manufacturing days related to our ERP system upgrade and the impact of Chinese New Year on production and sales volumes,” the company head said. He added that Canadian Solar is encouraged by the healthy demand levels it sees in key markets, the stability in module average selling prices (ASPs) and an expected higher utilisation of its capacity.

Zhuang was announced as the acting CEO of the company today because founder, president and chairman Shawn Qu is recovering from an injury.

Huifeng Chang, senior vice president and CFO said the company’s profitability will improve as it moves through 2019.

In January-March 2019, Canadian Solar registered total solar module shipments of 1,575 MW, compared to 1,951 MW in the fourth quarter of 2018. The recorded level is also above the projected 1.3 GW-1.4 GW for Q1 2019.

For the second quarter of 2019, the firm forecasts total solar module shipments of 1.95 GW-2.05 GW, total revenue of USD 970 million-1.01 billion and a gross margin of between 13% and 15%. Excluding the sale of the 134-MWp/100-MWac Mustang solar project in California, gross margin is seen at 16%-18%.

The company had 983.6 MWp of utility-scale solar power plants in operation as of April 30, 2019, with an estimated total resale value of about USD 1.2 billion, it said. Canadian Solar’s late-stage, utility-scale solar project pipeline amounted to 3.4 GWp, including 1,525 MWp in the US.

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.898)

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