UPDATE 2-Trina Solar forecasts higher shipments as China demand improves
* 1st-quarter revenue up 71 pct at $444.8 mln
* Forecasts 2nd-quarter shipments of 950-1,010 MW
* Shares up 27 pct, shares of rivals also rise (Adds details from conference call, analyst comment, share movement)
May 21 (Reuters) - Trina Solar Ltd forecast higher solar panel shipments for the second quarter, helped by improving demand from China, sending its shares up as much as 27 percent in morning trade.
Investors had feared that China would not be able to meet its ambitious target of installing 14.5 gigawatts of solar generating capacity this year, held back by a lack of funds to build smaller projects.
Trina, however, said it expects China to help meet about three-quarters of its 400-500 MW solar project target in 2014.
The company's shares rose to $13.15, making them the top percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange.
Shares of a bunch of rival solar companies also rose, with Yingli Green Energy Inc and ReneSola Ltd each up as much as up 7 percent.
"I think the company helped alleviate some of the concerns about China demands in the second half of the year," Angelo Zino, an analyst with S&P Capital IQ, told Reuters.
Trina Solar said it expects second-quarter panel shipments of 950 megawatts to 1,010 MW, much higher than the 558 MW it shipped in the first quarter.
Nomura Securities International analyst Nitin Kumar said he had been expecting 784 MW in shipments in the quarter.
Trina posted its third-straight quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by better prices.
The company and rivals such as JinkoSolar Holding Co Ltd are also looking to Japan to boost demand as they ramp up production capacity.
Solar demand in Japan has got a push after the country introduced a feed-in tariff program in 2012 under which utilities have to buy power from renewable energy suppliers at pre-set premiums for up to 20 years.
This, coupled with generous subsidies in China, has helped solar companies return to the black after a four-year slump caused by weak panel prices.
Canadian Solar Inc and JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd also posted first-quarter profits earlier this month and forecast a rise in shipments.
Trina reported a net profit of $26.5 million, or 37 per American depositary share (ADS), for the first quarter ended March 31, compared with a loss of $63.7 million, or 90 cents per ADS, a year earlier.
Trina's shares have risen more than 50 percent in the past 12 months. (Reporting by Anannya Pramanick, Swetha Gopinath and Shubhankar Chakravarty in Bangalore; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Maju Samuel and Don Sebastian)