JinkoSolar shipments grow in Q4 2016, revenues, margins fall

2016 saw JinkoSolar emerge as the world’s biggest PV module producer, shipping some 6.65 GW of solar modules. The spin-off of its project development business, JinkoSolar Power Engineering Group, brought in RMB1.01 billion ($145.2 million), helping the company to register a net income for the quarter of close to RMB1 billion ($144 million).

Jinko’s FY revenues came it at RMB21.4 billion ($3.08 billion), up 38.5% YoY. Including the sale of its downstream activities, Jinko’s revenues topped RMB22.35 billion ($3.22 billion), up almost 40% YoY.

While this paints a rosy picture for the Chinese solar giant, Q4 2016 saw falling revenues and margins despite increasing shipments. Jinko shipped 1.733 GW of modules in Q3, up 7.9% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) and 1.3% YoY.

On this result, Jinko registered revenues of RMB5.12 billion ($737.6 million), a fall of 3.9% QoQ and 13.7% YoY. Its electricity generation revenues brought in $15.4 million in Q3, cash-flow that will not be recognized by JinkoSolar in 2017, on the back of spinning off its project business.

Jinko’s gross margins for Q4 also fell, down 4.9% QoQ and 4.7% YoY, to 14.3%. Over FY 2016, Jinko registered a gross margin of 18.1%.

“While market sentiment is gloomy overall, we remain optimistic about the global demand in 2017,” said JinkoSolar CEO Kangping Chen, in a statement. “I am pleased to announce a strong quarter to finish out the year with module shipments hitting 1,733 MW and 6,656 MW in the fourth quarter and full year 2016, respectively. I am proud to say that this puts us firmly in the position as the largest module supplier globally.”

The spin-off of its project business allowed Jinko to pay down debts, from $2.1 billion to $899 million.

“In January 2017, we further cut our debt by repurchasing almost all of our convertible notes due in 2019 at holders’ put option,” said Kangping Chen. “These initiatives have increased our corporate flexibility and reinforced our financial position which will allow us to take advantage of more opportunities in 2017.”

Jinko reports that it has received “rush orders” from Chinese developers towards the end of 2016, a trend it expects to continue in the first six months of 2017. This installation and demand peak is attributable to the scheduled China feed-in tariff reduction to take place in June 2017. After the cut, Jinko expects that demand “may soften” but that this will be tempered by Top Runner projects.

The Jinko CEO says that U.S. average selling prices (ASPs) have “begun to stabilize,” on the back of big falls during Q4  and that it expects U.S. demand to remain robust in 2017.

Regarding technology, Jinko looks likely to increase its PERC manufacturing capacity, as demand for high-efficiency products “continues to be strong.”

Jinko has forecast sales of a whopping 8.5 – 9 GW in module shipments for 2017.