Trina Solar profits despite the downturn

While continuing to cite the Italian solar subsidy revision and then reductions as causing "demand challenges" and high industry inventory levels, Trina Solar has reported growing shipment volumes. These increases were recorded both in comparison to 2010 levels, year-on-year, and to first quarter (Q1) 2011. Increases of 17.3 percent and 35 percent were reported respectively.

Despite growing sales volumes, operating income decreased however remained positive. Trina’s operating profit of $32.8 million was significantly lower than the $64.5 million recorded in Q1 2011 and the $83.3 million in Q2 2010.

The operating margin also fell to 5.7 percent compared to 15.3 percent in Q1 2011 and 22.5 percent in Q2 2010.

Despite remaining profitable while many manufacturers suffer losses, Trina Solar still expects improvements in the third quarter (Q3). These improvements are anticipated in terms of both demand and costs.

"We expect a significant reduction in our manufacturing costs due in large part to recently completed renegotiation of the majority of our long term polysilicon feedstock and wafer agreements," said Jifan Gao, Chairman and CEO of Trina Solar. In a statement announced the Q2 results he continued, "we have seen substantial improvement in order pipeline from our distributors and large commercial and utility segment customers across Europe and North America."

The Chinese manufacturer also responded positively to the announcement, on August 1, of a domestic feed-in tariff. "We have seen increased opportunities to expand our domestic shipment allocations as the market expands," said Gao.

In other highlights for Q2, Tina Solar moved into non-European markets with announcements to supply 35 MW of modules to a large U.S. photovoltaic project and 40 MW to an Australian photovoltaic supplier. Also in Australia, the company announced a three-year research deal with the Australian National University and a new sales office based in Sydney.

In Europe, Q2 saw Tina Solar agreeing to supply 55 MW of modules to Gestamp Solar in France and 130 MW to a Germany project.