DJ EARNINGS PREVIEW: Solar Likely To Shine Again In 1Q
By John Kell
OF DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
TAKING THE PULSE: The solar industry is expected to report strong first-quarter results, a dramatic shift from a year ago when many fell into the red as sales plummeted amid tighter credit conditions and an oversupply of its products, which lowered prices. Smaller player JA Solar Holdings CO. (JASO) earlier this month raised its guidance for first-quarter shipments, while Evergreen Solar Inc. (ESLR) said its shipments during the quarter reached a record high. Both will report results in May.
Still, concerns remain about the impact of the depreciating euro, as well as securing financing for projects and fears about a subsidy cut in Germany--the worldŽs largest solar market.
COMPANIES TO WATCH:
First Solar Inc. (FSLR) - reports April 28
Wall Street Expectations: Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters project First Solar to report a profit of $1.65 a share on revenue of $547 million, compared with year-earlier earnings of $1.99 on $418 million in revenue.
Key Issues: The maker of thin-film solar panels has reported surging revenue of late as demand remains high for its products, which are less efficient than silicon-based panels but also less expensive. Lazard Capital Markets said First Solar is "ideally positioned to leverage and potentially facilitate the long-term growth of the solar industry."
Suntech Power Holdings Co. (STP) - reporting date to be announced
Wall Street Expectations: The producer of photovoltaic panels is seen reporting earnings of 18 cents per American depositary share on revenue of $534 million, up from 1 cent and $316 million, respectively.
Key Issues: Suntech, one of the largest Chinese solar companies, has worked to expand internationally as it seeks new markets for its panels. The company said last month it expects first-quarter shipments to grow sequentially, and sees full-year shipments significantly above 2009.
Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. (YGE) - reporting date to be announced
Wall Street Expectations: Analysts anticipate a profit of 22 cents on revenue of $350 million. A year earlier, Yingli posted a loss of 16 cents on revenue of $146 million.
Key Issues: Yingli Green has been expanding rapidly in the U.S. and abroad, which helped it offer a strong 2010 shipment forecast. Auriga USA expects Yingli Green to remain a "low-cost leader while executing an aggressive capacity expansion plan," but Macquaire Research has warned Yingli could lose its cost advantage once it starts making its own polysilicon.
LDK Solar Co. (LDK) - reporting date to be announced
Wall Street Expectations: The Chinese maker of multicrystalline solar wafers is projected to report a 1-cent profit on revenue of $326 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of 21 cents on revenue of $283 million.
Key Issues: LDK, which has been cutting costs and scaling back expansion plans, in March said it expected capital spending to be "more modest going forward." The company, which has reported improved results over the past two quarters, recently predicted higher first-quarter results from a year earlier.
SunPower Corp. (SPWRA) - reporting date to be announced
Wall Street Expectations: Analysts anticipate earnings of 7 cents on revenue of $346 million. Year-earlier results were restated in March, and the company now says it posted a loss of 12 cents amid stock-compensation and other costs on revenue of $212 million.
Key Issues: SunPower last month announced it would use its balance sheet to help finance solar projects developed through its recent acquisition of SunRay Renewable Energy. The action marked a change in strategy for the company, which followed First SolarŽs move to finance its own projects.
(The Thomson Reuters estimates and year-earlier results may not be comparable because of one-time items and other adjustments.)
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