UPDATE 1-Hanwha SolarOne says shipments to rise on Japan, China demand

Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:42am EDT

* Sees 2014 shipments 1.5-1.6 GW vs 1.3 GW last year

* 4th-qtr loss $0.04 per ADS vs $1.27 per ADS last year

* Shares rise 10 pct premarket

March 13 (Reuters) - China-based Hanwha SolarOne Co Ltd said it expects solar panel shipments to rise this year due to robust demand from Japan, its largest market, and China.

Hanwha's shares jumped about 10 percent to $3.58 before the bell on Thursday.

The company posted a much smaller loss and steep a jump in sales in the fourth quarter, underlining a steady recovery in the sector as Japan subsidizes solar power and China boosts generation.

Rivals Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd, Trina Solar Ltd and JinkoSolar Holding Co Ltd have also said they expect solar panel shipments to rise.

Chinese solar companies have struggled for the past four years, hit by excess manufacturing capacity and withdrawal of subsidies in key European markets, prompting many to scale back or shut production.

Hanwha's net loss narrowed to $3.6 million, or 4 cents per American Depositary Share (ADS), in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $107.6 million, or $1.27 per ADS, a year earlier.

Net revenue rose 60 percent to $213.9 million.

Panel shipments soared 77 percent to 352.2 megawatts (MW). However, shipments in the first quarter will remain the same as fourth quarter due to seasonal weakness in China and North America.

Hanwha SolarOne expects to ship 1.5-1.6 gigawatts of panels this year, up from the 1.3 gigawatts it shipped 2013.

Gross margins are expected to be positive this year, ranging between 15 percent and 20 percent, the company said.

Higher panel prices and reduced costs helped Hanwha SolarOne post a positive gross margin of 14.1 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with a negative 31.3 percent last year.

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