Despite tariffs, Trina bullish on US

Trina Solar amplified its message on Tuesday that it expects to continue growing sales into the US regardless of how the trade case plays out, and said it is actively seeking to establish overseas production.

Shares of Trina fell by 8% after the company released its second quarter results, in which it forecast just 28% of its module shipments going to the US for the whole of 2014 – compared to nearly 38% during the second quarter.

China is expected to be Trina’s largest market in 2014 – and the larger the proportion of sales that come from China, the tighter Trina’s margins will be.

But chief financial officer Teresa Tan insists that the company intends to “continue our penetration” of the US market, both by keeping existing clients happy and developing new customers -- and in spite of any trade tariffs.

Tan expressed satisfaction with Trina's expected shipments this year into the US, and said the percentage of shipments made there could actually reach the low-30s.

Trina expects to ship at least 3.2GW of modules this year, with another 400MW or so being used for in-house projects as the company grows its downstream business.

Among all Chinese solar manufacturers covered by the preliminary US anti-dumping and countervailing duties, Trina was singled out in both cases to receive the lowest rates -- giving Trina a short-term advantage over its Chinese rivals.

“We believe that [US] demand will be very strong in quarters three and four,” says Zhiguo Zhu, senior vice president for Trina’s modules unit. “And of course with a good tariff and [cost of production], our cost is actually lower than our competitors.”

Demand for Trina’s modules has increased in the US since the preliminary ruling, which is set to be finalised in December, Tan says. The recent demand pick-up “very much sends a strong message to us that we ... have much room to play”, she says.

Tan adds that Trina is “very much looking into establishing a global [manufacturing] footprint” that will allow the company to “further increase our ability to serve the US market”.

While declining to specify which locations are being considered, Zhu notes that the new capacity will be located “overseas and out of China”.