Is JinkoSolar’s Big Gain a Win for All Global Solar Companies?

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JinkoSolar Holding Co. Ltd. (NYSE: JKS) finally may be showing signs of life again. While the latest pop is a definite gain for the company, some of the news here may only marginally help other solar stocks recover some of their lost mojo.

Shares of JinkoSolar were up over 10% on nearly five-times normal trading volume as of midday on Monday after the Chinese solar manufacturing firm’s earnings report. Its earned $0.19 per common share and the revenues almost hit $975 million. Both figures beat the consensus estimates, and it was actually more than a 4% rise on the revenue figure from the same quarter in 2017. Income from operations was $27.4 million, and net income attributable to ordinary shareholders was $27.5 million in the third quarter of 2018.

While JinkoSolar’s gross margin rose to 14.9% from 12.0% a year ago, that was actually an increase of 10.5% from the second quarter of 2018. There was a decline in the average selling prices of its solar modules. One issue that looks to have made up for it was that its solar module shipments rose more than 24% from a year ago, up to 2,953 megawatts. This appears to be a new company record.

JinkoSolar also communicated that it remains confident about recovering demand in China and abroad in 2019 as the trending cost of solar energy becoming more competitive with traditional power sources is being labeled as an irreversible trend.

While module shipments were forecast to be in the 3.7 gigawatts (GW) to 4.0 GW range, JinkoSolar lowered the higher-end of its shipment guidance for the full year. The company’s 2018 shipment range is now 11.5 GW to 11.8 GW, versus its prior 11.5 GW to 12.0 GW range.

China’s solar demand has become softer now that the Chinese government has halted its subsidies for solar projects on a large utility scale. The broader global customer base helped fuel that revenue jump. The company also pointed to its strong brand recognition as a driving force.

Kangping Chen, JinkoSolar’s chief executive officer, plans to take advantage of the increasing opportunities for grid parity projects, and he remains confident that Chinese demand will return next year. He talked up the solar advances that have been made:

We continue to allocate resources towards the application of high-efficiency technologies while constantly optimizing their cost structure. We made solid progress in improving wafer efficiency and reducing both oxygen content and light induced degradation. We also made breakthroughs with our new generation of N type HOT cell and optimized the structure of the P type PERC cell to further improve its efficiency. The Cheetah series modules are selling rapidly with the 72-piece mono PERC Cheetah module hitting above 400W in efficiency during mass production. Sustainable technology development and the falling cost of raw materials are helping us to increase market share by allowing us to cater to our client’s diverse demands at cost effective prices.

We are confident that Chinese and global demand next year will recover as the cost of solar energy becomes more competitive. This trend is irreversible. We are now ideally positioned with our order book in Q4 almost full from growing overseas markets and our products being in short supply. We will benefit from growth in demand for solar energy and believe we have the right strategy in place to further expand our market share, distinguish ourselves from the competition, and consolidate our leading position in the industry.

While the news may be good for solar watchers in general, a gain of 13% at $10.42 on roughly 2.5 million shares at the noon hour on Monday may owe some thanks to short sellers covering their positions or exiting entirely. Roughly 30% of JinkoSolar’s float, or 7.68 million shares, was counted in the short interest. Its shares are still well under half of the peak in the last year after China’s policy decision.

JinkoSolar’s 52-week range for its American depositary shares is $7.11 to $26.91, and the Thomson Reuters consensus analyst target price was last seen at $12.22 ahead of the report. Its market cap is just $408 million, even with Monday’s big pop.

The solar sector has been seeing a rise of short selling activity. Also worth noting is that there was recently a $1.5 billion major solar utility divestiture that was too large to ignore. Monday’s big market recovery and the JinkoSolar news had a marginal to mixed impact with peers.

The industry leader, First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), was up just 0.2% at $43.43 around noon on Monday. First Solar has a 52-week trading range of $36.51 to $81.72, and its market cap is $4.5 billion.

SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) was up a sharp 13% at $6.86, against a 52-week range of $5.76 to $10.00. Its market cap is $970 million.

Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: CSIQ) was up just 1.4% at $16.78, with a 52-week range of $11.37 to $18.52. Canadian Solar has a $985 million market cap.

SolarEdge Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: SEDG), which sells direct current optimized inverter systems for solar photovoltaic installations, was actually down by 0.2% at $39.91 at the noon hour. Its market cap is $1.8 billion, and it has a 52-week trading range of $30.80 to $70.74.

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