Canadian Solar sees Q1 net revenue drop, signs $250m loan agreement

Compared to the impressive US$956.2 million reaped in Q4 2014, Canadian Solar saw its Q1 2015 net revenue drop slightly, to $860.9 million. This is still a vast improvement on Q1 2014, however, which recorded just $466.3 million. Of this, the Chinese company’s total solutions business accounted for 35.9% of total net revenues, compared to 51.7% in Q4 2014. For the second quarter of the year, it anticipates revenues of $570 million and $620 million.

Canadian Solar’s gross margin also slipped to 17.8%, down from 19.3% in Q4 2014, but up from 14.7% in Q1 2014, while net income fell to $61.3 million from $75.7 million in Q4. The next quarter is expected to see gross margins of between 13 and 15%.

PV module shipments hit 1.23 GW, of which 1.03 GW were recognized in revenue, up from 897 MW in Q4 and 500 MW in Q1 2014. This figure includes 124 MW under the company’s total solutions business, compared to 163 MW in Q4 2014 and 49 MW in Q1 2014. For Q2 2015, the company forecasts shipments of between 950 MW to 1 GW.

Canadian Solar’s most important sales region was still the Americas, which accounted for 48.7% of its net revenue. This is a drop from 61.8 % in Q4 2014, however. Sales to Asia and other markets, meanwhile, comprised 33.6% of net revenue, and sales to Europe represented 17.7%, compared to 32.7% and 5.5%, respectively, in Q4.

Commenting on the results, Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar said the outlook for 2015 is positive. Based on both its forecasts and those of market analysts, it expects tier 1 PV module demand to outstrip supply during the year.

"This is driven by policy factors, such as the acceleration of demand in the U.S. ahead of the investment tax credit (ITC) expiration in 2016 and the higher target for the domestic China market in 2015, along with continued strength in markets where we have an established leadership presence," he explained, adding, "Favorable economic conditions have swung the energy demand pendulum further toward solar, which is resulting in rising demand worldwide."

Canadian Solar, whose PV project pipeline received a boost after the recent $265 million acquisition of Recurrent Solar from Sharp, added that it expects to break ground on three projects in the U.S. in the next three months.

It has a pipeline in the U.S. totaling around 1 GW across seven projects, six of which are located in California, and one in Texas. Based on current plans, they are all expected to come into operation in 2016.

On the back of this, Canadian Solar announced the signing of a $250 million loan agreement with China Minsheng Bank. The loan facility has a three-year maturity and will be used to partially fund the company’s takeover of Recurrent. The remaining cash will be channeled into Canadian Solar’s U.S. solar project development.