Canadian Solar exceeds Q4 shipment guidance, posts $99.6m profit in 2017

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Full-year net revenue edged up to $3.39 billion in 2017, from $2.85 billion in 2016, according to its results for the fourth quarter and year to the end of December 2017. Net revenue from its total solutions business accounted for about 22.8% of the group’s total net revenue, from just 8.1% a year earlier.

The Chinese Tier 1 solar group shipped roughly 1.83 GW of PV modules in the fourth quarter, down slightly from 1.87 GW in the preceding three-month period, but slightly higher than the upper range of its quarterly guidance. Revenue rose about 21.7% from the third quarter to $1.11 billion in the final three months of 2017, while the company’s net income rose sharply from $13.3 million in the third quarter to $61.4 million.

“Our record-high solar module shipments for the full year 2017 were driven by strong demand from China, India, Europe and the United States,” said Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar.

In the fourth quarter, Canadian Solar sold 72.7 MWp of PV across 13 sites in Japan to its Canadian Solar Infrastructure Fund unit for $270 million. It partly attributed its fourth-quarter gross profit of $218.6 million and its gross margin of 19.7% to the sale of those projects in Japan.

”We benefitted from the higher margin contribution from the sale of 72.7 MWp of solar projects to CSIF in Japan,” said Huifeng Chang, senior vice president and CFO of Canadian Solar. “We are encouraged by our success in monetizing our operating solar power assets globally. This serves as a further validation of the strength of our business model.”

The group currently operates about 1.2 GWp of solar capacity throughout the world, with approximately 2 GWp of PV in various stages of development by the end of February 2018.

Its late-stage utility-scale PV project pipeline, including arrays that are still being built, included 459 MWp in the U.S., 435.7 MWp in Mexico, 410 MWp in China, 362.2 MWp in Japan, 215.6 MWp in Brazil, 59 MWp in India, 24.2 MWp in Australia, 18.4 MWp in Chile, and 8.2 MWp in the U.K.

Canadian Solar invested about $8.6 million in R&D in the fourth quarter, according to an online statement. It claimed $1.19 billion of cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash by the end of December, up slightly from about $1.15 billion at the end of September 2017.

Its total borrowings for utility-scale PV projects stood at $1.38 billion by the end of 2017, from $1.43 billion a year earlier.

The group’s total PV cell production capacity stood at 5.45 GW at the end of 2017, with plans to expand that to 6.35 GW by the end of this year. Its PV module manufacturing capacity stood at 8.11 GW at the end of December, with plans to expand that to 9.81 GW by the end of the current year.

In the first quarter of 2018, Canadian Solar expects to ship approximately 1.3 GW to 1.35 GW of solar panels, including about 65 MW for its own utility-scale PV projects. Total revenue for the first three months of this year will likely range from $1,370 million to $1,400 million, it said.

For the full year, it expects total PV module shipments to reach between 6.6 GW and 7.1 GW, and revenues of $4.4 billion to $4.6 billion.