UPDATE 2-JinkoSolar's outlook cloudy despite strong Q1
* Q1 profit $2.10/ADS vs est $1.53/ADS
* Q1 rev up at $326.7 mln vs est $289.8 mln
* Sees Q2 shipment of 190-200 MW; rev view $330-$350 mln
* Names Ron Kenedi US unit president
* Shares up 1 pct (Adds conference call, analyst comments; updates shares)
By Krishna N Das
BANGALORE, May 2 (Reuters) - JinkoSolar Holding Co's first-quarter results beat Wall Street expectations as the Chinese solar company's expansion into new markets boosted sales, but it forecast a cautious second quarter as renewable energy subsidies continue to fall.
Solar investors have feared that companies like JinkoSolar and LDK Solar's exposure to Italy and Germany, the top markets that are to slash support for solar energy, would hurt results in the next few quarters.
To address that, JinkoSolar has already cut its exposure to Italy and has entered into markets like the United Kingdom and Slovakia. Italy's contribution to the company's module shipments fell to 31 percent in the first quarter from 50 percent in the fourth.
"Their small size allows them to be more nimble in changing market conditions," said Christine Hersey, analyst at Wedbush Securities. The market value of the company is $651 million.
In an indication that JinkoSolar is also betting big on the United States, the company appointed solar industry veteran Ron Kenedi as president of its U.S. unit. Kenedi joins from Sharp Solar, a unit of Sharp Electronics Corp.
Hersey termed Kenedi's appointment as a positive.
"It may also indicate that people are expecting increased price competition in the United States."
JinkoSolar expects average selling price (ASP) for modules to continue to decline in the second quarter. Gross margin fell to 26.2 percent in the first quarter, from 28.5 percent in the fourth.
Margins fell mainly due to an increase in the average cost of polysilicon -- the key raw material in photovoltaic modules -- and a decrease in ASPs.
JinkSolar executives, however, said that Italy's extension of generous support for the solar industry till August-end will help companies in the sector. [ID:nLDE73R0WV]
"This should bring stability to ASPs," Chief Marketing Officer Arturo Herrero said on a conference call.
JinkoSolar expects to ship 190-200 megawatts (MW) of solar modules in the second quarter, while revenue should be in the range of $330-$350 million. Analyst were predicting revenue of $346.3 million. [ID:nASA02158]
"Their second quarter outlook looks pretty good given the current environment," analyst Hersey said.
First-quarter revenue jumped four-fold to $326.7 million as solar product shipments more than doubled to 208.4 MW.
January-March net profit came in at $51.4 million, or $2.10 per American depositary share, the company, which went public in May last year, said. Analysts had expected a profit of $1.53 per ADS, on revenue of $289.8 million.
JinkoSolar shares, which have risen 35 percent year to date, were up more than one percent at $27.52 in Monday morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Krishna N Das in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)
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