Yingli Solar scores in US, China

Yingli, the world’s largest maker of PV modules, nearly halved its net loss during the second quarter and significantly fattened its gross margin, on strength in the Chinese and US markets.

Although the Baoding-based company’s performance in areas like revenues and shipments improved at a slower pace than some of its rivals, it did so from a higher base, leaving it firmly in the pole position.

Unlike many tier-one Chinese module suppliers who have upped their shipment guidance for the whole of 2013, Yingli has held its guidance steady at 3.2GW-3.3GW – by far the industry’s highest.

Trina Solar, Yingli’s closest Chinese competitor in terms of module volumes, has guided for 2.3GW-2.4GW this year.

Yingli’s quarterly revenue of $550.4m was significantly higher than its closest rivals. So too was its net loss of $52.3m, although that was down from a $98.5m first-quarter deficit.

Yingli's quarterly gross margin of 11.8% is roughly in line with Trina and Canadian Solar – but well short of JinkoSolar’s 17.7%. 

The improvement in gross margin – up from 4.1% in the first quarter – was due to “continuously increasing selling prices and constant reduction of manufacturing costs”, says chief executive Liansheng Miao.

Yingli did not immediately give any guidance on its profitability targets for the year. Jinko remains the only major Chinese PV manufacturer to have returned to profitability in the second quarter. 

Yingli linked its 23.6% growth in module shipments to “robust” demand within the Chinese and US utility-scale segments.

The company recently surpassed 1GW of historical deliveries to the Americas, as the global market pivots away from Europe.

The Chinese market is moving in a “sound and steady direction”, Miao says, with Yingli continuing to press downstream into project development and EPC work. Even in Europe, revenues were “better than expected”, due to pull-in demand sparked by regulatory uncertainty, Miao adds. 

The dramatic improvement of China’s leading PV manufacturers in 2013 – with many expecting to return to profitability by the end of the year – will give further impetus to Beijing’s plan to consolidate the sector around a dozen or so national champions.