Yingli losses more than double in first quarter

Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited saw net loss more than double in the first quarter of the year to CNY 611.8 million ($98.5 million, €77 million) as the leading Chinese PV manufacturer posted a 15% drop in revenue to CNY 2.68 billion ($431.4 million, €337.4 million).

The group, which announced the appointment of a new chief financial officer, also reported narrower gross margins – 4.1% compared to 7.8% a year ago — as PV module shipments fell 6.4% from the fourth quarter of 2012.

The company attributed the sequential decrease in net revenues mainly to the decline in PV module shipments, which was partially offset by the slightly improved average selling price of PV modules.

Earlier this month, Yingli raised its shipments guidance for the quarter, saying it expected PV module shipments to drop by 6% to 7% from the previous quarter.

Yingli Green Energy Chairman and CEO Liansheng Miao offered an optimistic assessment of the company’s operations despite the declining shipments and an overall supply glut in the global market and did not address the ongoing trade dispute between the EU and China over alleged dumping practces in his published statements.

"Our strong shipment was primarily supported by the strong European and the U.S. markets and the rapid growth of demand in new markets such as Japan," Miao said.

Europe remained strong as a result of the pull-in demand in the first quarter and firm demand in Europe was also evident in the second quarter, he added. As for U.S. activity, Miao said the first three months of 2013 proved the second best quarter ever in the U.S. in terms of shipment volumes.

Miao said Yingli would consolidate its position in all segments of the U.S. market.

The company’s shipments to Japan increased significantly due to vigorous demand before the country’s government adjusted its subsidy program in April, he added.

"We expect that returns on investments will remain attractive, which will continuously drive demand in Japan."

The first quarter had historically been slow in China due to seasonality but added that demand was picking up as the construction of utility-scale projects accelerates, Miao said, adding that Yingli was positioning itself for upcoming opportunities in the country’s distributed generation segment.

He also said the company would put more efforts into diversifying sales into new markets. "Based on current market conditions and forecasted customer demand, we are confident to accomplish our full year shipment guidance of 3.2 to 3.3 GW."

Yingli also said it would swap its chief financial and strategy officers. Effective immediately, Yiyu Wang will move from his post as chief strategy officer to that of chief financial officer, while Zongwei Li, up till now finance chief, becomes the new chief strategy officer.

In related news, Yingli announced that it had signed a deal to exclusively supply 96 MW of PV modules for the Jasper PV Solar Plant in South Africa’s Northern Cape, currently one of the largest solar projects in the country, which is being developed by a consortium led by U.S. group SolarReserve.

Spain’s Iberdrola Ingenieria y Construccion and South African company Group Five are building the Jasper PV plant, which will be powered by more than 325,000 Yingli multi-crystalline modules spread across 180 hectares.

"This project is a major milestone in our strategy to bring affordable green energy for all into emerging markets like Africa," Miao said, adding that coverage from German insurance company Munich RE made the deal possible.

"We are also delighted that our strategic alliance with Munich RE has enabled Iberdrola, with whom Yingli Green Energy has been collaborating in different projects worldwide since 2006, to reduce project investment risk that has helped to lower financing barriers."

The Jasper plant is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 30,000 homes in the area.