* First-quarter loss $1.71 per ADS vs $0.71 year-ago
* First-quarter gross margin 0.4 pct
* Sees high single-digit margin for 2013
* Shares up 4 pct
July 1 (Reuters) - Solar panel maker China Sunergy Co Ltd reported higher first-quarter shipments due to increased demand from France, its largest market, and said it expects margins to expand in the current quarter.
Shares of the company rose about 4 percent to $2.20 in trading before the bell.
China Sunergy said it would focus on margins over volumes, joining its peers in focusing on high-margin markets such as India and Japan.
The countries together accounted for about a quarter of China Sunergy’s first-quarter revenue of $61.7 million.
The company lowered its total shipment forecast for the year as it moves more production to Turkey to lessen the impact of European Union’s dumping duties on panel imports from China.
Second-quarter cell and module shipments are expected to be in the range of 500 megawatt (MW) to 550 MW, lower than the 550MW-600MW it had forecast earlier.
The Istanbul plant began shipping solar panels last month to an undisclosed customer in France.
First-quarter gross margin was 0.4 percent, compared with a negative 3.7 percent in the previous quarter and 1.1 percent in the first quarter of last year.
China Sunergy said second-quarter gross margin was expected to touch “high single-digit level.”
Net loss for the first quarter, however, widened as panel prices fell further. The posted a loss of $22.9 million, or $1.71 per American Depositary Share (ADS), in the quarter ended March 31, compared with $9.6 million, or 71 cents per ADS, a year earlier.
Revenue fell 10 percent to $61.7 million.