Shares of Canadian Solar (CSIQ) , one of the world’s biggest solar power companies, are trading lower on Wednesday after saying it swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, but provided a bleak outlook for the first quarter. Joining in with other solar firms, such as Trina Solar Ltd. (TSL) , Canadian Solar said severe weather conditions in North America slowed construction at projects, which will translate to lower revenue and gross margin in the first quarter.
For the quarter ended December 31, 2013, the Guelph, Ontario-based company reported net revenue of $519.5 million, up 76.2 percent from $294.8 million in the year prior quarter. On a GAAP basis, Canadian Solar earned $20.95 million, or 39 cents per share, versus a net loss of $104.99 million, or $2.43 per share, in Q4 2012.
Wall Street was expecting profits of 49 cents per share on revenue of $512.95 million.
Despite coming up short of analyst predictions, it was the second straight quarter of profitability for Canadian Solar. Before shifting into the black in the third quarter last year, the company had posted losses in the nine previous quarters.
Canadian Solar has been shifting into building solar power plants, which brings higher margins than solely competing in the low-margin product space and it’s paying off. For all of 2013, Canadian Solar logged net income of $31.66 million, or 63 cents per share. In 2012, it had lost $195.47 million, or $4.53 per share.
"We are very pleased to have achieved our goal to return the Company to profitability in 2013, underscoring the successful execution of our strategy of expanding our higher margin total solutions business, and seeking profitable growth in our module business, rather than simply competing on MW volume and price,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar, in a statement this morning.
Sales rising in China helped Canadian Solar’s financials. Solar module shipments to the Chinese market were 43 percent of all shipments in the fourth quarter, compared to 9.9 percent in the year prior quarter. Shipments to Japan represented 19.7 percent of total shipments, against 11.7 percent a year earlier.
Shares of CSIQ have been on a tear in the last year, rising a stellar 1,300 percent through Tuesday’s close from 52-week lows last March.
Wall Street was expecting more in the first quarter than what Canadian Solar forecast. The company expects total module shipments between 470 megawatts and 490 megawatts. That’s down from the 621 MW shipped last quarter. The arctic blast that has hit North America and Canada with unseasonably icy and snowy conditions has negatively affected sales and delayed construction at utility-scale projects in Canada, pushing that revenue and profits into the second and third quarter, according to the company.
For the quarter, Canadian Solar now sees revenue in the range of $415 million to $430 million, down from the $510 million to $520 million previously forecast. The new guidance is well below the $517 million analysts expected.
Total panel shipments are expected to climb to the range of 2.5 GW to 2.7 GW in 2014, compared to 1.9 GW in 2013. Total sales are projected between $2.7 billion and $2.9 billion, from $1.65 billion last year, with about half of those sales derived from its total solutions business.
For the day, investors are focused on the earnings miss and guidance, not the overall growth. Shares are off by 11.2 percent in late afternoon trading at $38.77.