Yingli back to positive EBITDA

While failing to return to net profitability in the first quarter of 2014, Yingli bounced back to profit at the EBITDA level after a long drought, with its shares climbing more than 4% in early trading on Tuesday.

China’s Yingli swallowed a net loss equivalent to $55m in the first quarter of 2014, down sharply from the net loss of $128.2m it recorded last quarter.

Its positive EBITDA of $35.7m compares to a negative EBITDA of $34.4m last quarter.

Nevertheless, Yingli’s performance compares poorly with many of its closest Chinese rivals – most of which returned to net profitability several quarters ago.

Trina, for example, China’s second largest supplier of PV modules behind Yingli, saw its first-quarter net profit rise to $26.5m – its third straight quarterly surplus. Other major Chinese solar manufacturers to have returned to profits include Canadian Solar, JinkoSolar and JA Solar.

Yingli’s gross margin for the quarter came in at 15.7%, compared to 20.6% for Trina, and 24% for JinkoSolar.

Among the challenges Yingli acknowledged was a “slight delay” in delivery for a landmark 258MW module order in Algeria it announced earlier this year.

Yingli’s revenues came in at $432.2m for the quarter, down nearly 28% on last quarter, which it blamed on soft wintertime demand in China – a common refrain from Chinese suppliers this year.

Yingli confirmed that it recently nailed down an agreement with Sailing Capital announced tentatively this spring. Yingli and Sailing Capital – the first “large cross-border RMB private-equity fund launched in China” – will jointly invest in PV projects built by Yingli, which claims to have a 1GW pipeline in China.