The string of losses in the solar PV industry is really not news any longer. Stock prices have been hit hard by collapsing panel prices and vanishing margins. Today is really no different.
Chinese solar makers Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd. (NYSE: STP) and Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE: TSL) both announced results for their first quarters. Suntech managed to beat revenue expectations, posting sales of $409.5 million versus a consensus estimate of $406 million. But the total reflects a decline of -34.9% sequentially and 53.3% year-over-year. The company posted an EPS loss of -$0.74 compared with an estimate of -$0.50. Gross margins fell to just 0.6%, down from 9.9% in the fourth quarter of 2011 and 20.8% in the same period a year ago.
Trina did even more poorly. Revenues totaled $350 million versus a consensus estimate of $398.5 million and the loss per ADR totaled -$0.42 compared with an estimated loss of -$0.29. Gross margins came in at 13.3%, but the company’s operating margin fell to -11.4%, somewhat better than the operating margin of -14.4% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Profits and margins for both companies include reserves taken to pay the anti-dumping duties recently approved the US Department of Commerce.
Of the solar makers, only Renesola Ltd. (NYSE: SOL) put up solid enough numbers for the first quarter to enjoy any kind of bump in share price. First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) posted a surprise EPS loss for the first quarter and SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) missed on revenues while coming in slightly ahead of EPS estimates. Chinese solar maker LDK Solar Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LDK) posted horrible results in its fourth quarter and expected results for the first quarter don’t look good either. Neither do estimates for JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) or Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE).
Suntech said it expects shipments to increase by 20% in the second quarter and gross margins to improve to 3%-6%. The company maintained its full-year shipment guidance of 2,100-2,500 megawatts.
Trina forecast shipment growth of about 31%-37% in the second quarter and gross margins of around 10%. For the full year the company expects to ship 2,000-2,100 megawatts.
Shares of Suntech have fallen about -2.5% by early afternoon today to $1.93 in a 52-week range of $1.70-$8.50. Trina’s shares are up 0.75% at $5.37 in a 52-week range of $5.20-$23.64.