* Gross margins positive for first time in three quarters
* Co says remains committed to meeting all debt obligations
* Says still evaluating options to boost cash position
* Backs full-year shipments outlook
* Shares jump 51 percent, touches new year-high of $8.40
(Adds details from conference call, updates share move)
May 20 JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd's focus
on margins over volumes paid off as the Chinese solar products
maker halved its operating loss in the first quarter by selling
more panels in high-margin Japan.
Shares of JA Solar were up 44 percent at $8.07 on the Nasdaq
on Monday afternoon, after touching a year-high of $8.47.
Gross margins turned positive for the first time in three
quarters, even as the company reported its eighth quarterly loss
in a row.
The company also said it remained committed to meeting all
debt obligations, and was still evaluating financing options to
boost its cash position.
Heavily indebted Chinese solar companies have often
defaulted on bond payments.
Debt-laden Suntech Power Holdings Co Ltd, once the
world's largest solar panel maker, and LDK Solar Co Ltd
recently defaulted on bond payments partially.
Suntech's main unit is in insolvency proceedings.
Chinese solar companies piled on debt over the past two
years and stepped up manufacturing, leading to a supply-side
glut that sent panel prices down sharply.
JA Solar expanded its presence in high-margin markets Asia
Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, in the first quarter.
"We performed especially well in Japan, a high-ASP (average
selling price) market, which accounted for a record 38 percent
of our module shipments in the quarter," Chief Executive Baofang
Jin said in a statement.
Japan had hardly contibuted to the company's sales in the
The company started focusing on new markets after weak
pricing in China, once its largest market, hurt margins. China
accounted for only about 14 percent of the company's sales int
he quarter, down from nearly 50 percent a year ago.
"Right now, our focus is more on margins and profitability
than on market share. As a result, we let a lower proportion of
our shipment to China this quarter," Chief Operating Officer
Jian Xie said in a conference call with analysts.
"As we expand our global footprint, we will continue to
prioritize margins over shipment volumes."
The company said it expects second-quarter total shipments
to be between 410 megawatt (MW) and 430 MW. It backed full-year
shipments outlook of 1.7 GW to 1.9 GW.
Operating loss fell to $13.7 million in the quarter ended
March 31 from $25.6 million a year earlier.
Net loss narrowed to 85 cents per American depositary share
(ADS) from $1.03 per ADS a year earlier.
Revenue rose 4.7 percent to $270 million.
(Reporting By Thyagaraju Adinarayan; Editing by Sriraj
Kalluvila and Joyjeet Das)