JA Solar Holdings Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: JASO) reported first-quarter 2015 results before markets opened Monday. The China-based solar panel maker reported adjusted diluted earnings per American depositary share (ADS) of $0.13 on revenues of $387.7 million. In the first quarter of 2014, the company reported earnings per ADS of $0.32 on revenue of about $367 million. First-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for earnings per ADS of $0.06 and $410.14 million in revenue. One ADS represents five ordinary shares of JA Solar stock.
JA Solar continues shifting its sales model to include more modules and fewer cells. In the first quarter, the company’s module shipments comprised nearly 86% of all shipments. The company attributes its 6.8% shipment growth to strong demand from Japan and Europe.
For the second quarter of 2015, JA Solar expects total cell and module shipments to range between 680 to 720 megawatts. The company shipped 681.5 megawatts in the first quarter and 952.7 megawatts in the fourth quarter of 2014. First-quarter sales typically experience a seasonal slowdown.
For the full year, the company forecasts cell and module shipments in the range of 3,600 to 4,000 megawatts, including 200 megawatts of modules shipments to its own downstream projects.
The company’s CEO said:
[W]e expect to see stronger demand in the second half, particularly in China and North America. Meanwhile, we remain focused on the execution of our downstream business and strategically expanding our manufacturing capabilities. We are currently working to establish a new cell manufacturing facility in Malaysia. … We are confident that our strong manufacturing and sales execution, growing downstream project portfolio, and continued geographic expansion will be key growth drivers for us moving forward. These, combined with the expected pick-up in demand in the second half of the year, leave us very optimistic about the remainder of 2015 as we continue to build on our leadership position in the industry.
Gross profit rose 1.6% year-over-year, but fell 30.2% sequentially, and gross margin dipped from 16.7% in the year-ago quarter to 16.1% and rose from 15.5% sequentially. Operating expenses were also higher, at 9.9%, than the 9.7% total in the first quarter of 2014 and 6.2% in the fourth quarter. Operating cash flow was negative in the first quarter, posting a loss of $38.2 million.
Shares traded down about 2% in premarket trading Monday morning, at $9.90 in a 52-week range of $6.40 to $11.31. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of $13.10 before the results were announced. The high price target is $21.00.