The company’s full-year shipments were at the upper end of its guidance for 2018. It posted net revenue of $3.74 billion for the year to the end of December, up roughly 10.3% year on year.
In the fourth quarter, it recorded net income of $111.6 million, on net revenue of $901 million, up 17.3% from the preceding three-month period. It shipped 1.95 GW of PV modules in the three months to the end of December 2018, from 1.59 GW in the third quarter, hitting the upper end of its quarterly guidance.
In the October-December period, it finalized the sale of 470 MW of solar capacity in the US, in addition to 247 MW in China. It also sold off its 20% stake in the 399 MWp Pirapora portfolio of projects in Brazil. By the end of February 2019, its operational utility-scale PV portfolio stood at 986 MWp, with an estimated total resale value of about $1.2 billion, according to an online statement.
Its portfolio of late-stage, utility-scale PV projects, meanwhile, stood at 2.9 GWp, including solar arrays still under construction. This includes 1.2 GWp in the US, 476.2 MWp in Brazil, 368 MWp in Mexico, 295.1 MWp in Japan, 100 MWp in China and another 450.1 MWp across Australia, Argentina, Canada, Italy, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and India.
“The company divides its utility-scale solar project pipeline into two categories: an early-to-mid-stage pipeline and a late-stage pipeline,” Canadian Solar said. “The late-stage pipeline primarily includes projects that have FITs or PPAs, and are expected to be built within the next four years.”
Canadian Solar invested about $15.4 million in R&D in the fourth quarter, versus just $10.1 million in the July-September period and $8.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.
“Our focus remains on downstream energy business where we can leverage our expertise and competitive advantage to deliver a higher return on investment,” it said. “This includes consistently winning new projects in sought-after markets, reliably developing projects on time and on budget and leveraging our powerful global network of banking and investor partners.”
For the first quarter of this year, Canadian Solar expects to ship 1.3-1.4 GW of PV modules. It aims to achieve revenue of $450 million to $480 million in the first three months of 2019. For the full year, it expects to ship 7.4-7.8 GW of solar capacity, on anticipated revenue of $3.5 billion to $3.8 billion.
“We had an exceptional year in 2018, with close to 140% growth of net profit from the 2017 level,” said Shawn Qu, chairman and chief executive of Canadian Solar. “And while we have a strong 2.9 GWp late-stage solar project pipeline, due to the typical project development cycle, we expect to realize sales for the majority of these late-stage projects in 2020 or later. This will likely create a temporary pullback in 2019 compared to 2018.”
So far this year, Canadian Solar has won contracts to build 94 MW of solar in the Canadian province of Alberta. It also switched on its first PV plant in Mexico — a 68 MWp installation in Aguascalientes. In addition, it sold its 18 MWp portfolio of PMGD solar power projects in Chile to Sonnedix.