Canadian Solar: Higher shipments and revenues, but falling gross margin

Weathering the Q3 storm enviably, at 355 megawatts (MW) Canadian Solar managed to up its module shipments from the 287 MW shipped in Q2 2011, and the 200 MW shipped in Q3 2010. Net revenues showed a similar upward growth trajectory, having risen from $481.8 million in Q2 2011, and $377.2 million in Q3 2010, to hit $499.6 million.

Marring this positive growth however, was Canadian Solar’s gross profit, which at $11.9 million, marked a significant sequential decrease from $63.7 million and an annual drop from $65.3 million. Q3 2011 gross margin, meanwhile, was a paltry 2.4 percent, compared to the 13.2 percent seen in Q2 2011, and the 17.3 percent achieved in Q3 2010. The main reason cited was low average selling prices and a high inventory.

Operating expenses also increased, from $38.7 million in Q2 2011, and $25.3 million in Q3 2010, to reach a high of $42.6 million in Q3 2011. Furthermore, operating margin was negative 6.1 percent, compared to positive 5.2 percent in Q2 2011, and positive 10.6 percent in Q3 2010.

In terms of Q4 2011, photovoltaic module shipments are again expected to increase, to between 340 and 360 MW, while gross margin is predicted to be between five and eight percent. For the full year 2011, Canadian Solar has reiterated its previous module shipment guidance of between 1.2 and 1.3 gigawatts.

In a statement released, the company added, "Capital expenditures in the first nine months of 2011 totaled approximately $177 million. Reflecting the current demand environment, the company will reduce capital expenditures in the fourth quarter 2011 to approximately $30 to $35 million, with the full year 2011 expected to be approximately $210 million, down approximately $90 million from prior plan."