Manufacturers

Canadian Solar Reports First Quarter 2019 Results

Canadian Solar Reports First Quarter 2019 Results

GUELPH, Ontario — Canadian Solar Inc. today announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2019 ended March 31, 2019.

First Quarter 2019 Highlights

  • Total solar module shipments were 1,575 MW, compared to 1,951 MW in the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter 2019 guidance of 1.3 GW to 1.4 GW.
  • Net revenue was $484.7 million, compared to $901.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter 2019 guidance of $450 million to $480 million.
  • Gross margin was 22.2%, compared 28.3% in the fourth quarter 2018, after excluding the benefit of a U.S. countervailing duty (CVD) reversal of $16.1 million in that quarter, and first quarter 2019 guidance of 16.0% to 18.0%.
  • Net loss attributable to Canadian Solar was $17.2 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, compared to net income of $111.6 million, or $1.81 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2018, or net income of $99.5 million, or $1.61 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2018, after excluding the CVD reversal of $16.1 million, net of income tax effect, in that quarter.
  • As of April 30, 2019, the Company’s portfolio of utility-scale solar power plants in operation was 983.6 MWp with an estimated total resale value of approximately $1.2 billion. Only the value of the class B shares which the Company holds in its tax equity solar power plant in the U.S. is included in this resale value.

First Quarter 2019 Results

Net revenue in the first quarter of 2019 was $484.7 million, compared to $901.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, and $1.42 billion in the first quarter of 2018. The sequential decrease was primarily due to the previously disclosed acceleration of certain high profit project sales into 2018 from 2019, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system upgrade which resulted in 5 days of work stoppage at several manufacturing facilities and the anticipated lower production and sales volumes due to the impact of the Chinese New Year Holiday. The year over year decrease was primarily due to the higher revenue contribution from project sales and higher solar module ASP in the prior period. First quarter 2019 guidance was $450 million to $480 million.

Total solar module shipments in the first quarter of 2019 were 1,575 MW, compared to 1,951 MW in the fourth quarter of 2018 and first quarter 2019 guidance of 1.3 GW to 1.4 GW. Total solar module shipments in the first quarter of 2019 included 52 MW shipped to the Company’s utility-scale solar power projects. Solar module shipments recognized in revenue in the first quarter of 2019 totaled 1,423 MW, compared to 2,076 MW in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 1,765 MW in the first quarter of 2018.

Gross profit in the first quarter of 2019 was $107.4 million, compared to $271.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $143.9 million in the first quarter of 2018. Gross margin in the first quarter of 2019 was 22.2%, compared to 28.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018, after excluding the benefit of a CVD reversal of $16.1 million in that quarter, and 30.1%, including the benefit of the CVD reversal in that quarter, and 10.1% in the first quarter of 2018. First quarter 2019 guidance was 16.0% to 18.0%. Gross margin in the first quarter of 2019 was better than expected primarily due to a lower blended module manufacturing cost compared to our previous forecast.

Canadian Solar’s MSS business comprises primarily the design, development, manufacture and sale of solar modules, other solar power products and solar system kits. The MSS business also provides engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operating and maintenance (O&M) services. Canadian Solar’s Energy business comprises primarily the development and sale of solar projects, operating solar power projects and the sale of electricity. The module sales from the Company’s MSS business to its Energy business are on terms and conditions similar to sales to third parties.

The Company develops solar power projects worldwide. Where applicable, the Company may apply for and/or be entitled to receive a feed-in tariff (FIT) for its projects. Alternatively, the Company may participate in public or private energy auctions and bidding, which result in long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs). The Company may also sell all or part of the electricity generated from its solar power projects on the merchant power market. Because of the longer lead time (two to four years) to develop solar power projects and bring them to a commercial operation date (COD), the actual gross margin of a project may deviate from the expected gross margin. The deviation may be caused by, but not limited to, changes in the political and economic conditions in host countries, project-specific conditions, price movements of solar modules and other components, EPC services and the capital return requirements of solar asset buyers. In recent years, the Company has sold some solar power projects before COD. We typically refer to these sales as “notice to proceed” or NTP sales. Revenue is lower, while gross margin percentage is higher, in NTP sales compared to COD sales, even if the absolute margin is the same. Results from the Company’s Energy business may be lumpy from quarter to quarter, depending on project NTP and COD dates, project sale transaction dates and the profit level of each project.

The following tables provide select financial data for the Company’s MSS and Energy Businesses:

Three Months Ended March 31, 2019
(in Thousands of US Dollars)
MSS Energy Elimination Total
Net revenue 468,901 31,587 (15,769) 484,719
Cost of revenue 369,664 22,174 (14,558) 377,280
Gross profit 99,237 9,413 (1,211) 107,439
Gross Margin 21.6% 29.8% 7.7% 22.2%
Income (loss) from
operations
20,741 (12,925) (1,211) 6,605

 

Three Months Ended
March 31, 2019
MSS:
Solar modules and other solar power products 371,094
Solar system kits 25,076
EPC services 39,679
O&M services 4,510
Others (materials and components) 12,773
Subtotal 453,132
Energy:
Solar power projects 24,571
Electricity 1,283
Others (EPC and development services) 5,733
Subtotal 31,587
Total net revenue 484,719

Total operating expenses in the first quarter of 2019 were $100.8 million, compared to $134.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $65.7 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Selling expenses in the first quarter of 2019 were $37.9 million, compared to $44.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $42.3 million in the first quarter of 2018. The sequential decrease was primarily due to lower professional service expenses, project transaction fees and shipping and handling costs.

General and administrative expenses in the first quarter of 2019 were $51.4 million, compared to $81.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $48.8 million in the first quarter of 2018. The sequential decrease was primarily due to a $26.8 million impairment charge related to certain manufacturing assets in the fourth quarter of 2018, decreased professional service expenses and a decrease in bad debt provision.

Research and development expenses in the first quarter of 2019 were $13.2 million, compared to $15.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $9.5 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Other operating income in the first quarter of 2019 was $1.7 million, compared to $6.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $34.9 million in the first quarter of 2018. Other operating income in the first quarter of 2018 reflects the net gain from the sale of solar power plants in the U.K. and Japan.

Income from operations in the first quarter of 2019 was $6.6 million, compared to $136.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, and $78.2 million in the first quarter of 2018.  The fourth quarter of 2018 reflects the previously disclosed acceleration of certain high profit project sales into 2018 from 2019.  Operating margin was 1.4% in the first quarter of 2019, compared to 15.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018 and 5.5% in the first quarter of 2018.

Non-cash depreciation and amortization charges in the first quarter of 2019 were $37.6 million, compared to $32.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $34.5 million in the first quarter of 2018. Non-cash equity compensation expense in the first quarter of 2019 was $2.4 million, compared to $2.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $2.1 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Interest expense in the first quarter of 2019 was $21.7 million, compared to $23.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $29.6 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Interest income in the first quarter of 2019 was $2.0 million, compared to $2.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and $3.6 million in the first quarter of 2018.

The Company recorded a loss on change in fair value of derivatives in the first quarter of 2019 of $1.3 million, compared to a loss of $7.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and a gain of $4.5 million in the first quarter of 2018. Foreign exchange loss in the first quarter of 2019 was $12.6 million, compared to a gain of $7.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, and a loss of $8.5 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Income tax benefit in the first quarter of 2019 was $7.5 million, compared to income tax expense of $36.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 and income tax expense of $4.1 million in the first quarter of 2018.

Net loss attributable to Canadian Solar in the first quarter of 2019 was $17.2 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, compared to net income of $111.6 million, or $1.81 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2018 and net income of $43.4 million, or $0.72 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2018.

Business Outlook

The Company’s business outlook is based on management’s current views and estimates with respect to market conditions, production capacity, order book, and global economic environment. This outlook is subject to uncertainty on final customer demand, solar project construction, and sale schedules. Management’s views and estimates are subject to change without notice.

For the second quarter of 2019, the Company expects total solar module shipments to be in the range of approximately 1.95 GW to 2.05 GW, including approximately 50 MW of shipments to the Company’s utility-scale solar power projects that may not be recognized as revenue in the second quarter 2019. Total revenue for the second quarter of 2019 is expected to be in the range of $970 million to $1.01 billion. Gross margin for the second quarter is expected to be between 13% and 15%, reflecting the inclusion of the Mustang project sale, which has a lower gross margin based on the enterprise value of the project, not equity. Excluding the Mustang project sale, gross margin for the second quarter is expected to be between 16% and 18%.

Yan Zhuang, acting Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar commented: “All key aspects of our fundamental business remain strong led by healthy demand and relatively stable pricing. We view Q1 2019 as a one-time bump in our record of consistently delivering profitable results in both up and down markets. Our focus is on monetizing the 3.4 GWp of assets in our late-stage, utility scale solar power project pipeline and redeploying that capital into attractive project opportunities to ensure our future success. Separately, in our MSS business, we are currently running with about 50% to 60% of our long-term capacity booked. We have historically left some capacity to meet the needs of higher margin near-term sales. This has been a very successful strategy and remains an important element of our planning, execution and track record of success.”

Recent Developments

On May 29, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that it signed a multi-year module supply agreement with EDF Renewables North America to deliver 1,800 MW of high efficiency solar modules for projects in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. This module supply agreement represents the largest single module supply agreement in Canadian Solar’s 18 year history.

On May 28, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that it achieved a world record of 22.28% conversion efficiency for its p-type multi-crystalline P5 cells. The record high P5 cell efficiency was tested and certified by Fraunhofer ISE of Germany in April 2019.

On May 23, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that it completed the sale of 68 MWp Aguascalientes project in Mexico to BlackRock.

On May 16, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Recurrent Energy, LLC completed the sale of the 134 MWp Mustang project in the U.S. to Goldman Sachs Asset Management, L.P.

On May 15, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that it closed a $50 million term loan from Credit Suisse to support the development of its international solar project pipeline and for general corporate purposes. The U.S. dollar-denominated term loan is expected to mature in April 2021. Credit Suisse further provided Canadian Solar with a cross-currency interest rate swap to hedge its cross-currency interest rate liabilities relating to the term loan.

On May 1, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that it won two accolades in the 2018 Power Finance & Risk Deal of the Year Awards: Latin America Project Finance Borrower of the Year and Latin America Project Finance Deal of the Year for the financing of its 100 MWp solar project in Cafayate, Argentina.

On April 29, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Canadian Solar Projects K.K., expanded and renewed its credit facility with a syndicate of four finance leasing institutions led by Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company, Limited (SMFL). SMFLis a member of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and one of Japan’s largest leasing institutions with global presence.

On April 24, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that it signed an agreement to sell its 80% interest in a 482.6 MWp portfolio of contracted solar projects in Brazil to Nebras Power Investment Management B.V., a Dutch affiliate of Nebras Q.P.S.C.

On April 2, 2019, Canadian Solar announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Recurrent Energy, LLC, secured a $50 million letter of credit facility from Natixis, a multinational financial services firm, to support the development of the Company’s utility-scale solar projects across the U.S. and Canada.

The full earnings report can be found here.

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