(Reuters) - Chinese solar company JinkoSolar Holding Co Ltd (JKS.N) reported a smaller first-quarter loss as margins swelled and said it expected current-quarter shipments to more than triple from a year earlier.
JinkoSolar, whose shares were up 16 percent in early trading, forecast total solar module shipments of 450 megawatts to 470 megawatts (MW) in the second quarter, up from 157.1 MW in the same quarter last year.
Cheaper polysilicon and auxiliary materials also helped increase the company's gross margin to 12.7 percent from 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter and 0.7 percent a year earlier.
JinkoSolar, which has been expanding its presence in Japan as its home market becomes overcrowded, said it expected Japan to account for about 15 percent of shipments in coming quarters.
Japan has become more attractive for solar companies as it moves away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in 2011.
JinkoSolar did not say what percentage of its current business comes from Japan.
The solar panel maker, which reported its seventh straight quarterly loss, said it expected demand to pick up in China soon. Other solar companies have been less upbeat about the Chinese market.
JinkoSolar said the duties imposed by the European Union on imports of Chinese solar panels were unfair and it would explore new ways to compete effectively in Europe.
The EU, which said it has evidence that Chinese firms are selling their goods below cost, imposed duties earlier this week, but at a dramatically reduced initial rate after pressure from some large member states.
JinkoSolar's first-quarter net loss narrowed to $20.7 million, or 92 cents per American depositary share (ADS), from $56.6 million, or $2.55 per ADS, a year earlier.
After adjustments, the company reported a loss of 56 cents per ADS, compared with $2.36 per ADS a year earlier.
Revenue rose 10 percent to $187.3 million as decline in average selling prices was offset by higher shipments of solar modules.
Solar product shipments rose 36 percent to 338.6 megawatts (MW) in the quarter.
JinkoSolar shares were up 15.7 percent at $9.80 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Reporting By Kanika Sikka in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel, Roshni Menon