When the company reported fourth quarter earnings in March, it set expectations for the first quarter fairly low. Renesola posted an EPS loss of -$0.23, better than the expected loss of -$0.31, and revenue came in at $211.5 million, considerably above the consensus estimate of $177.6 million.
When the company reported fourth quarter earnings in March, it set expectations for the first quarter fairly low: shipments of 400-420 megawatts of modules and wafers and revenues of $180-$190 million. Now it might be that Renesola was managing expectations, but based on today’s results and the fourth quarter’s report, the company appears to have won its first battle with managing costs. That solution has so far eluded First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR), LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK), Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP), Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE), and JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO). Jinkosolar Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: JKS) is scheduled to report earnings later today and analysts expect an EPS loss of -$1.07 on revenue of just $158.9 million, about half the revenue of a year ago.
In March, Renesola’s CEO said this about his company’s cost structure:
Although we achieved our year-end cost-reduction targets, which placed our cost structure among the lowest in the industry, it was not enough to offset extremely low solar wafer and module prices.
In the first quarter the company’s module manufacturing cost fell to $0.74/watt and Renesola expects to lower that to $0.70/watt in the second quarter. Half the cost savings will come from lower wafer costs and the rest from lower pricing for polysilicon. The company is vertically integrated and makes its own wafers and polysilicon, which helps keep its costs down.
For the first quarter Renesola had positive gross margin of 9% on its solar modules while its overall gross margin was negative, -3.8%. That’s not good, but it’s a lot better than the negative gross margin of -28.1% the company posted in the fourth quarter. In the first quarter of 2011 gross margin rang in at 21%. Those were the days.
Shares in Renesola are up nearly 12% in pre-market trading, at $2.00, in a 52-week range of $1.45-$8.83.