UPDATE 3-JA Solar gives sunny forecast for 4th quarter 2010
* Shipments in 4th quarter to exceed 210 megawatts
* Expects shipments in 2010 to be 750 MW to 800 MW
* Shares up 6 pct at $5.65 each after closing up 16 pct
(Updates share movement; adds move to repurchase shares)
LOS ANGELES, Dec 14 (Reuters) - JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd (JASO.O) expects an uptick in demand to continue, as the company upped its forecast for shipments in the fourth quarter and expects annual shipments to rise 60 percent in 2010.
JA Solar, one of the sector's lowest-cost producers of the silicon cells that help convert sunlight into electricity, issued on Monday a bright forecast for the full year and gave investors the first glimpse at demand for the company's products in 2010.
Solar companies struggled for much of 2009 with a dearth of financing and drop in panel prices, but JA Solar and other solar power players have seen demand rebound in recent months.
In particular, JA Solar and other low cost Chinese solar players, such as Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd STP.N and Trina Solar(TSL.N), have seized on rising demand, parlaying their low cost structures into sales. [ID:nN19165613]
In the third quarter, JA Solar saw its shipments surge, lifting the solar cell maker to a profit. [ID:nN1039234]
For the fourth quarter, JA Solar expects shipments to exceed 210 megawatts, topping its previous expectations of a range of 170 to 200 MW.
For 2009, JA Solar expects shipments for 2009 to surpass 488 MW, which represents nearly the same amount of power that a traditional coal-fired power plant generates.
The company said it sees "strong shipments" in 2010 and predicted that they would rise more than 60 percent next year and reach a range of 750 MW and 800 MW, citing "robust orders from existing customers and new customer wins."
"Demand has continued to be strong from our existing customers as well as new customers," said Baofang Jin, the company's chairman and chief executive, in a statement.
The news marked a "positive in the short term, but more of a neutral" for the year ahead, said Simmons and Co analyst Burt Chao.
Chao said the forecast for 2010 indicated a strong first half, but was not "far and above" previous expectations.
"Things are better than they used to be but I don't think they're all the way back," Chao said, citing low module prices and issues with financing.
"In a downward trending price environment, the low cost guys are the most insulated. This has been the case," he said.
JA Solar's board of directors also moved on Monday to repurchase up to $75 million of its American Depositary Shares, or ADSs. The company plans to buy back the shares on the open market, through negotiations off the market and in block trades "from time to time."
JA Solar shares were up 6 percent, or 35 cents, at $5.65 each in after-hours trading after closing up nearly 16 percent in regular trading on Monday on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Laura Isensee; editing by Phil Berlowitz, Gunna Dickson and Andre Grenon)
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