Canadian Solar in roaring Q4

Canadian Solar says another strong quarterly performance likely propelled it to profitability for the whole of 2013, representing its first full-year surplus since 2010, and another sign of the powerful turnaround playing out in the global PV industry.

Canadian Solar’s preliminary figures show fourth-quarter module shipments of 605MW-620MW – vastly exceeding its previous guidance – suggesting full-year shipments of about 1.9GW.

For both the fourth-quarter and the whole of 2013 the company “expects to be profitable at the net-income level”, following net losses of $195m $91m in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

Canadian Solar, which is based in Ontario but does most of its manufacturing in China, rebounded to profitability in the third quarter on strong module sales and its booming downstream projects business.

The company recently revealed that it has carved out a 7% market share in the lucrative Japanese module market under its own brand name, a huge achievement for a Chinese manufacturer.

Canadian Solar recently sold its fourth utility-scale array in Ontario to BlackRock, and claims to have a project pipeline exceeding 3GW.

Revenues during the fourth quarter are expected to come in around $510m-$520m, with a gross margin of 16%-18%.

One dark cloud for Canadian Solar is the recent overturning by a Chinese court of a previous legal ruling over Chinese PV group LDK, relating to a wafer supply contract signed seven years ago.

The case – which had originally been decided in Canadian Solar’s favour – has been reopened, and should the ruling go the other way this time it would “impact profitability” in 2013, the company says.

Canadian Solar’s stock price has notched one of the most impressive performances within the historic rally in PV shares, surging more than seven-fold in the past year. That has left the company with a market valuation of nearly $1.7bn, significantly more than Chinese giants Yingli and Trina.