Canadian Solar records promising Q1 2012

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In comparison to many of its peers, Canadian Solar has kept its balance sheets looking relatively healthy. Despite this, a number of declines were recorded.

Q1 2012 net revenues were $325.8 million, compared to $474.1 million in Q4 2011, and $443.4 million in Q1 2011. Overall, the company said that European markets represented 42.6 percent of net revenues, while those in North America represented 45.1 percent, and Asia and all other markets, 12.3 percent.

Gross profit also fell, from $41.4 million in Q4 2011, and $65.3 million in Q1 2011, to $25.1 million. "The sequential and year-over-year decline in gross profit was primarily due to the continued decline in average selling prices over the past several quarters, partially offset by lower manufacturing costs," explained the company in a statement released.

Q1 2012 gross margin was also down at 7.7 percent, compared to 8.7 percent in Q4 2011, and 14.7 percent in Q1 2011. On a slightly more positive note, Q1 2012 operating margin was negative 4.1 percent, compared to negative 4.5 percent in Q4 2011 and positive 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011. "The sequential improvement in operating margin was due to lower operating expenses. The year-over-year decrease in operating margin was due to lower gross profit and higher operating expenses," it added.

At $38.5 million, total operating expenses also showed improvement on Q4 2011,which saw $62.9 million, although they were slightly up from Q1 2011, which saw $31.3 million.

In terms of its photovoltaic modules, Canadian Solar’s shipments fell from 436 megawatts (MW) in Q4 2011, to 343 MW in Q1 2012, but increased on Q1 2011, which shipped just 244 MW. Inventories at the end of Q1 2012 were up, at $389.9 million, compared to $296.6 million at the end of Q4 2011.

Looking ahead, Canadian Solar is confident that its total solutions business will continue to gain strength. "With our existing pipeline and potential new opportunities, we target to generate over 25 percent of 2012 revenue and over 40 percent of 2013 revenue from our total solutions business," stated Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO.

For Q2 2012, the company is targeting module shipments between around 430 to 450 MW. Gross margin, meanwhile, is expected to be between eight and 10 percent. "The company reiterates its annual guidance to ship approximately 1,800 MW to 2,000 MW of solar products in 2012," added the statement.