Like other Chinese solar makers, JA Solar appears to have turned a corner as far as gross margin is concerned. The company reported a positive gross margin of 6% in the first quarter, up from a negative 4.6% in the fourth quarter and a positive 2.1% in the first quarter of last year. The company’s net loss fell sequentially by 65%.
For the current quarter, JA Solar expects to ship a total of 410 to 430 megawatts, identical with its estimate for the first quarter, when it shipped nearly 443 megawatts of modules and cells. Total shipments for the full year were forecast at 1,700 to 1,900 megawatts, unchanged from the end of the fourth quarter of 2012.
The company’s CEO said:
Shipments exceeded the high end of guidance in the first quarter thanks to solid sales across our key markets, particularly in regions with higher ASPs, resulting in improved gross margins and a significant reduction in net loss. We performed especially well in Japan, a high-ASP market, which accounted for a record 38% of our module shipments in the quarter, while module sales to China declined from last quarter due to seasonality and our shift in focus to markets with more attractive margins.
The company repaid $119 million in convertible debt that came due last week. In March, JA Solar and ReneSolar Ltd. (NYSE: SOL) received new loans from the China Development Bank. ReneSolar reported a quarterly net loss last week.
Shares of JA Solar are up nearly 14% in premarket trading this morning, at $6.38, which would be a new 52-week high if it holds. The current 52-week range is $2.91 to $6.14. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $5.05 before today’s results were announced.