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Canadian Solar (CSIQ) Beats on Q1 Earnings & Revenues

Solar cell manufacturer Canadian Solar Inc. CSIQ reported first-quarter earnings of 37 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 13 cents by a whopping 184.6%. Reported earnings, however, plunged 64.4% from the year-ago figure of $1.04 per share.

Total Revenue

Canadian Solar posted first-quarter total revenues of $721.4 million, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $653 million by 10.5%. The top line was, however, down 16.2% from $860.9 million reported in the prior-year quarter.

Of the total revenue, the American markets comprised 43.1%, Asia represented 44.4%, and the European markets and other markets contributed 12.5%, compared with the year-ago contributions of a respective 51.9%, 41.1% and 7%.

Operational Update

Solar module shipments in the reported quarter totaled 1,198 megawatts (“MW”), down 14.3% from the year-ago level of 1,398 MW. The figure, however, surpassed management’s guidance range of 1,085–1,135 MW.

Gross profit was $112.5 million, down 26.5% from the year-ago profit of $153 million. Gross margin was 15.6% in the quarter, compared with 17.8% in the prior-year quarter.

Total operating expenses were $74.1 million in the quarter, down 0.2%. Operating expenses declined due to lower selling expenses.

Selling expenses totaled $34.8 million in the reported quarter, down 14.8%. General and administrative expenses were $34.8 million, up 17.8%. Research and development expenses were $4.5 million, up from $3.9 million a year ago.

Interest expenses were $16.1 million, up from the year-ago level of $11.2 million.

Financial Update

As of Mar 31, 2016, cash and cash equivalents were $412.4 million, lower than $553.1 million as of Dec 31, 2015.

Long-term debt, as of Mar 31, 2016, was $818.5 million, up from $606.6 million as of Dec 31, 2015.

Guidance

For the second quarter of 2016, Canadian Solar expects shipments of 1,200 MW to 1,250 MW. Total revenue is expected in the range of $710 million to $760 million, with gross margin of 15–17%.

For the full year, Canadian Solar reiterated its total module shipments expectation in the range of 5.4–5.5 gigawatts. Total revenue is expected to be $3.0 billion to $3.2 billion, up from the prior projection of $2.9–$3.1 billion, reflecting the company’s expectations of higher sales of solar plants in the second half of the year.

Peer Releases

SunPower Corp. SPWR reported first-quarter 2016 adjusted loss of 42 cents per share, wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of loss of 23 cents by 82.6%. In the year-ago quarter, the company had reported earnings of 5 cents per share.

First Solar Inc. FSLR reported first-quarter 2016 earnings of $1.66 a share, sweeping past the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 91 cents by 82.4%. The reported number was also a reversal from the prior-year loss of 61 cents, reflecting higher sales, gross profits, operating income and lower expenses.

SolarCity Corp. SCTY posted an adjusted loss of $2.56 per share, much wider both the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of $2.30 and the year-ago loss of $1.52 per share. The wider loss can be attributed to the company’s rising expenses.

Our View

Canadian Solar is working on improving both module sales and its downstream energy business. The company has the potential to tap into the growing solar markets of Asia. As of Mar 31, 2016, the company had late-stage projects totaling 150 megawatt-peak (“MWp”) in China and 600 MWp in Japan. Solar plants in operation totaled 196.2 MWp in China and 21.2 MWp in Japan.

Zacks Rank

Canadian Solar presently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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