A surging fourth quarter capped off an impressive year for Chinese solar producer JA Solar, posting 3.1 GW of shipments in 2014, of which 2.4 GW were solar modules the most in the industry.
Fourth quarter financials show that the company increased its shipments by 43.2% year-on-year, and 21.3% sequentially, hitting 952.7 MW in the final three months of last year. Of that, modules accounted for 879.6 MW a huge year-on-year increase of 142.1%.
Net revenue in the final quarter of last year reached $576.4 million, which was an 18.4% increase on Q3 and a 65.3% increase year-on-year as Chinese demand remained strong and JA Solar the fruits of a strategic expansion into better geographies and a wider product mix.
Gross margin came in at 15.5% for Q4, with operating profit up from $9.5 million in Q4 2013 to $35.8 million last year.
Strong annual showing
JA Solars robust final-quarter figures built upon an extremely strong 2014 for the company, which saw net revenues reach $1.8 billion (up from $1.2 billion in 2013) and operating profit soar to $106.8 million, which was perhaps the most impressive facet of the companys fortunes considering JA Solar operated at a loss of $14.7 million in 2013.
Aside from surging module shipments, solar cell shipments reached 651.1 MW in 2014 as part of JA Solars wider portfolio strategy, which nevertheless saw more than 90% of its annual revenue derived from module sales.
In terms of overall growth, JA Solars 105% increase in module shipments was industry-leading, outstripping Trina Solars upper-limit module growth of 26%. In terms of volume, however, Trinas 4.4 4.6 GW of module shipments is unlikely to be beaten. Yingli Solar is due to publish its Q4 and full year results on March 25.
"Our results in Q4 confirm the visibility we had coming into the quarter," said JA Solar CEO Baofing Jin. "Demand in the China market was as strong as expected, as developers and utilities rushed to meet aggressive government-directed goals for the year. We started the quarter with all of our capacity booked, and demonstrated excellent manufacturing execution to fill orders, resulting in shipment growth of 43% year-over-year and 21% sequentially.
"We executed at the margin level too, with product and geographic mix driving sequentially higher gross margin."
Jin added that the Q4 results capped a year of achievement for the company, one which cemented its position as one of the leading Tier-1 solar companies.
"We expect our revenue growth rate of 57% to be among the highest in the industry," said Jin, who also applauded the companys decision to shift its product mix to more profitable modules and a much heavier investment in R&D which, raising its budget by 58%. "Our intention in 2015 is to sustain this track record of rapid growth and high profitability."
2015 Q1 guidance
Looking ahead, JA Solar revealed first quarter guidance figures for 2015, estimating cell and module shipments in the range of 680 MW to 750 MW, with annual shipments anticipated to reach somewhere between 3.6 GW and 4 GW.
"We are optimistic and confident about the future for JA Solar," concluded the CEO. "We have established our industry leadership in many ways, whether it be the talent and hard work of our employees, or the strength of our customer relationships. We expect our leadership position to drive outstanding results in the year ahead, creating success for our customers, shareholders, and employees."