March 4, 2013 / 3:07 PM / 5 years ago

Yingli posts loss; looks homeward to drive sales

(Reuters) - Yingli Green Energy Holding Co (YGE.N), one of China’s largest solar equipment makers, reported its sixth straight quarterly loss, but forecast higher shipments for the year as it looks to sell a major chunk of its products at home.

Yingli shares, however fell as much as 8 percent to $2.21 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Analysts call the topline growth at solar companies “profitless prosperity” as a four-year long slump in panel prices shows no signs of lifting.

Yingli is not expected to post a profit for the next eight quarters, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The solar panel industry has been battered by excess capacity and subsidy cuts at top market Europe, with prices falling 30 percent in the past year.

Yingli said it expected to ship between 3.2 GW and 3.3 GW in 2013, higher than its 2012 shipments of 2.3 GW.

“We expect to increase our module shipment volumes to China in 2013 by more than 40 percent compared with 2012,” the company said in an earnings presentation posted on its website.

China, the world’s top energy consumer, will more than double its installed solar power capacity this year, the government said in January.

The country plans to add 10 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar power capacity this year, putting it within reach of its target of 21 GW of installed capacity by 2015.

“Spurred by China’s 10 GW target and price elasticity from lower pricing, we expect our 38 GW global demand forecast for 2013 to yield upside to 2013 shipment guidance,” Maxim Group analyst Aaron Chew said in a preview note.

Yingli is looking to ramp up sales in Japan and other regions with high potentials of solar applications, such as South America, southeast Asia and Africa.

    Yingli increased its annual panel manufacturing capacity by 750 megawatt (MW) to 2.45 GW last year, making it a top panel supplier in 2012. But much of this expansion was funded by debt.

    Rival Trina Solar Ltd TSL.N last week forecast higher shipments for the year as it looks to sell more at home and in emerging solar markets such as Japan.

    A feed-in tariff scheme was introduced by Japan last July to help spread the use of clean energy in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

    Yingli’s fourth-quarter gross margin fell to negative 3.2 percent, from a positive 3 percent last year, after it wrote down inventory by $106.8 million.

    Fourth-quarter revenue rose 14 percent to $466 million as demand in China continued to expand strongly increasing panel shipments by about 41 percent from the third quarter.

    Yingli’s net loss fell to $200.5 million, or $1.28 per American depositary share (ADS), in the fourth quarter from $599.4 million, or $3.87 per ADS a year earlier.

    Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Rodney Joyce and Joyjeet Das

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