Canadian Solar Reports Third Quarter 2017 Results

Published on 13 Nov 2017
CSI(Canadian Solar) 
Canadian Solar Inc. announced its financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 2017.

Third Quarter 2017 Highlights

- Total solar module shipments were 1,870MW, compared to 1,745MW in the second quarter of 2017, and the third quarter guidance in the range of 1,650MW to 1,700MW.

- Net revenue was $912.2 million, compared to $692.4 million in the second quarter of 2017, and the third quarter guidance in the range of $805 million to $825 million.

- Net revenue from the total solutions business as a percentage of total net revenue was 21.6% compared to 6.5% in the second quarter of 2017.

- Gross margin was 17.5%, compared to gross margin of 24.2% in the second quarter of 2017 (including the benefits of two AD/CVD reversals of $42.6 million and $15.0 million based on the final rates of Solar 1 AR3 and Solar 2 AR1, respectively) and gross margin of 15.9% in the second quarter of 2017 (excluding the reversal benefits), and the third quarter guidance of 15.0% to 17.0%.

- Net income attributable to Canadian Solar was $13.3 million, or $0.22 per diluted share, compared to net income of $38.2 million, or $0.63 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2017.

- Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash balance as of September 30, 2017 was $1.15 billion, compared to $961.6 million as of June 30, 2017.

- Net cash provided by operating activities was $153.8 million, compared to net cash used in operating activities of $83.4 million in the second quarter of 2017.

- The Company's portfolio of solar power plants in commercial operation was 1,419.5MWp as of September 30, 2017, with an estimated total resale value of approximately $2.0 billion. Only the class B share value of the Company's tax equity deal projects in the U.S. was included in the estimated resale value.

Update on the Monetization of the Operating Projects

- In September and October 2017, the Company entered into definitive agreements with two Asian buyers, to sell a portfolio of six solar power projects in California, totaling 703MWp. These transactions are subject to various government approvals. The parties hope to close the transactions in the fourth quarter of 2017 or the first quarter of 2018, depending on the timing of the required governmental approvals.

- In September 2017, Canadian Solar Infrastructure Fund, Inc. obtained approval from the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Inc. to list its investment units on the TSE's infrastructure investment fund securities market. Japanese subsidiaries of Canadian Solar agreed to sell 13 operating solar power plants with a total installed capacity of 72.7MWp to CSIF as its initial portfolio. An initial public offering of 177,800 CSIF investment units was priced at 100,000 Japanese yen per unit, before underwriting discounts. Of the units included in the offering, Canadian Solar purchased 25,395 units as the designated purchaser. The listing was completed on October 30, 2017. CSIF plans to use the net proceeds from the offering and anticipated bank borrowings of JPY 17.7 billion (approximately $156 million) to consummate the acquisition of the Initial Portfolio. Net sale proceeds to Canadian Solar from the Initial Portfolio amounted to JPY 30.4 billion (approximately $270 million). Canadian Solar expects to use part of the net sale proceeds to reduce its overall debt by JPY 18.7 billion (approximately $165 million).

- In September 2017, the Company entered into an agreement to sell 99 percent of its Class B membership interests in the 92MWp IS-42 project in North Carolina to Falck Renewables S.p.A., with closing expected in November 2017.

- In October 2017, the Company entered into agreements to sell interests in three solar projects in Australia, totaling 117MWp, to Foresight Solar Fund Limited. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017.

- During the quarter, the Company completed the sale of the 108MWp SECI Maharashtra project in India.

Third Quarter 2017 Results

Net revenue in the third quarter of 2017 was $912.2 million, up 31.8% from $692.4 million in the second quarter of 2017 and up 38.8% from $657.3 million in the third quarter of 2016. Solar module shipments recognized in revenue totaled 1,782MW, compared to 1,638MW recognized in revenue in the second quarter of 2017 and 1,161MW recognized in revenue in the third quarter of 2016. Solar module shipments recognized in revenue in the third quarter of 2017 included 12.6MW used in the Company's total solutions business, compared to 29.2MW in the second quarter of 2017, and 16.3MW in the third quarter of 2016.

Gross profit in the third quarter of 2017 was $159.8 million, compared to $167.8 million in the second quarter of 2017 and $117.3 million in the third quarter of 2016. Gross margin in the third quarter of 2017 was 17.5%, compared to 24.2% in the second quarter of 2017, and 17.8% in the third quarter of 2016. Gross profit in the second quarter of 2017 included the benefits of two AD/CVD reversals of $42.6 million and $15.0 million based on the final rates of Solar 1 AR3 and Solar 2 AR1, respectively. Excluding the reversal benefits, gross margin in the second quarter of 2017 was 15.9%.

Total operating expenses were $102.0 million in the third quarter of 2017, up 21.3% from $84.1 million in the second quarter of 2017 and up 13.0% from $90.3 million in the third quarter of 2016.

Selling expenses were $42.8 million in the third quarter of 2017, up 8.9% from $39.3 million in the second quarter of 2017 and up 26.1% from $34.0 million in the third quarter of 2016. The sequential and year-over-year increases were primarily due to higher shipping and handling costs, resulting from higher module shipment volumes and external sales commissions.

General and administrative expenses were $53.3 million in the third quarter of 2017, up 0.7% from $53.0 million in the second quarter of 2017 and up 1.6% from $52.5 million in the third quarter of 2016.

Research and development expenses were $7.3 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to $7.3 million in the second quarter of 2017 and $4.6 million in the third quarter of 2016. The year-over-year increase reflects the Company's continued commitment to investing in and commercializing solar energy technologies that differentiate the Company and strengthen its competitive position through higher efficiency, and more sought after energy solutions.

Other operating income was $1.4 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to other operating income of $15.5 million in the second quarter of 2017 and $0.8 million in the third quarter of 2016. Other operating income in the second quarter of 2017 includes insurance compensation of $15.2 million for the loss of profit related to the June 2016 tornado damage to the Company's Funing cell factory.

Income from operations was $57.8 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to income from operations of $83.7 million in the second quarter of 2017, and $27.0 million in the third quarter of 2016. Operating margin was 6.3% in the third quarter of 2017, compared to 12.1% in the second quarter of 2017 and 4.1% in the third quarter of 2016.

Non-cash depreciation and amortization charges were approximately $23.8 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to $21.2 million in the second quarter of 2017, and $25.4 million in the third quarter of 2016. Non-cash equity compensation expense was $2.1 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to $4.2 million in the second quarter of 2017 and $1.8 million in the third quarter of 2016.

Interest expense was $33.7 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to $26.7 million in the second quarter of 2017 and $18.8 million in the third quarter of 2016.

Interest income was $3.4 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to $1.4 million in the second quarter of 2017 and $2.1 million in the third quarter of 2016. 

The Company recorded a gain on change in fair value of derivatives of $1.8 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to a loss of $1.8 million in the second quarter of 2017 and a gain of $2.0 million in the third quarter of 2016. Foreign exchange loss in the third quarter of 2017 was $16.5 million compared to a foreign exchange loss of $11.6 million in the second quarter of 2017 and a foreign exchange gain of $4.4 million in the third quarter of 2016.

Income tax expense was $6.2 million in the third quarter of 2017, compared to income tax expense of $9.0 million in the second quarter of 2017 and income tax expense of $16 thousand in the third quarter of 2016.

Net income attributable to Canadian Solar was $13.3 million, or $0.22 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2017, compared to net income attributable to Canadian Solar of $38.2 million, or $0.63 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2017, and $15.6 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2016.

Financial Condition

The Company had $1.15 billion of cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash as of September 30, 2017, compared to $961.6 million as of June 30, 2017.

Accounts receivable, net of allowance for doubtful accounts, as of September 30, 2017 were $457.4 million, compared to $367.6 million as of June 30, 2017. Accounts receivable turnover was 47 days in the third quarter of 2017, compared to 56 days in the second quarter of 2017.

Inventories as of September 30, 2017 were $301.5 million, compared to $283.2 million as of June 30, 2017. Inventory turnover was 37 days in the third quarter of 2017, compared to 52 days in the second quarter of 2017.

Accounts and notes payable as of September 30, 2017 were $1.06 billion, compared to $899.5 million as of June 30, 2017.

Excluding the borrowings included in "Liabilities held-for-sale", short-term borrowings as of September 30, 2017 were $2.14 billion, compared to $2.04 billion as of June 30, 2017. Long-term borrowings as of September 30, 2017 were $318.2 million, compared to $273.0 million as of June 30, 2017.

The Company had approximately $1.29 billion in non-recourse bank borrowings as of September 30, 2017. Senior convertible notes totaled $126.2 million as of September 30, 2017, compared to $126.0 million as of June 30, 2017. Total borrowings directly related to utility-scale solar power projects, which included approximately $1.22 billion of non-recourse borrowings, were $1.43 billion as of September 30, 2017, compared to $1.30 billion as of June 30, 2017.

Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar, remarked, "This was a good quarter for us, as solar module shipments, revenue and gross margin all exceeded guidance mainly due to the better-than-expected demand in China, and the pull-in effects in the U.S. market ahead of the Section 201 ruling. As a result, the average selling price of solar modules was sustained in the quarter. Our shipments to third-party customers in the U.S. were moderate in the third quarter, as we supplied modules to our own 281MWp Tranquility 8 utility-scale project in California. However, the pull-in effect appears to have driven the spot market solar module price higher globally and pushed low-price solar module demand into 2018. We did, however, encounter some headwinds. The cost of raw materials, such as high-purity polysilicon and aluminum extrusion products, increased significantly during the quarter. In addition, the appreciation of the Chinese Renminbi and the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar resulted in foreign exchange losses to the Company and drove up our production cost. We responded by expanding on those manufacturing steps in which we have technology advantages, such as diamond wire-saw wafering and black silicon solar cell. These efforts helped to partially offset the increase of raw materials costs. Meanwhile, we are continuously making progress in the monetization of our operating solar power plants. We are close to the finish line with transactions to sell certain project assets in the U.S. and Australia. In Japan, CSIF was listed on the TSE's infrastructure investment fund securities market on October 30, 2017, with an initial portfolio of 72.7MWp. During the quarter, we also completed the sale of the 108MWp SECI Maharashtra project in India. We are excited with the results of our hard work and remain focused on executing our strategy to develop and sell quality solar products and projects to create the maximum value for our shareholders."

Dr. Huifeng Chang, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Canadian Solar, added, "Our higher-than-expected solar module shipments in the third quarter were driven by strong demand for solar modules from China, the U.S., Japan and India. Our higher gross margin was the result of increased average selling price compared to our previous expectation, better cost controls and manufacturing efficiencies. We are pleased with the progress we have made in the monetization of our operating solar power plants in the U.S. and Japan. We will further reduce our overall debt, after the sale of the 703MWp of U.S. projects, 150MWp U.K. project and CSIF's initial public offering in Japan."

Business Outlook

The Company's business outlook is based on management's current views and estimates with respect to operating and market conditions, its current order book and the global financing environment. It is subject to uncertainties relating to final customer demand and solar project construction schedules. Management's views and estimates are subject to change without notice.

For the fourth quarter of 2017, the Company expects its total solar module shipments to be in the range of approximately 1,650MW to 1,750MW, including approximately 60MW of shipments to the Company's utility-scale solar power projects that may not be recognized as revenue in the fourth quarter of 2017. Total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2017, which includes revenue from both of our solar module sales and from our energy business, is expected to be in the range of $1.77 billion to $1.81 billion, which is based on the best estimate of the transaction dates of certain utility-scale solar project sales, as discussed in previous sections. Revenue will be affected if some of the project sales slip to 2018. Gross margin for the fourth quarter of 2017 is expected to be between 10.5% and 12.5%.

For the full year 2017, the Company expects its total module shipments to be in the range of approximately 6.7GW to 6.8GW, compared to 6.0GW to 6.5GW as previously guided. The Company expects its revenue for the full year 2017 to be in the range of $4.05 billion to $4.09 billion. Module shipments recognized in revenue and total annual revenue will depend on market conditions, including ASP trends and governmental approvals for the sale of solar projects.

Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Solar, commended, "Looking into Q4 of 2017 and next year, the solar industry continues to face both opportunities and challenges. We believe that solar energy will be adopted by more and more people and the long-term aspect of the industry is bright given the compelling fundamentals. However, the environmental and trade policies of certain countries will likely continue to cause uncertainty. Separately, while Canadian Solar remains an industry cost leader, the unexpected raw material cost increase and the appreciation of Chinese currency over the past few months will make it challenging for us to reach our previously-set solar module manufacturing cost target by the end of 2017. Canadian Solar will continue to prioritize profitability rather than market share, focus on research and technology, and selectively invest into certain manufacturing processes to optimize our supply chain and cost structure."

Recent Developments

In addition to the transactions described above:

On November 8, 2017, Canadian Solar and EDF Energies Nouvelles announced that the 191.5MWp Pirapora I and 92.5MWp Pirapora III solar energy projects in Brazil, totaling 284MWp, were commissioned in November 2017. 

On October 23, 2017, Canadian Solar announced that it supplied 666.4kW of solar PV modules for an iconic solar project on Robben Island, near Cape Town in South Africa.

On October 17, 2017, Canadian Solar announced that one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries and several subsidiaries of Menora Mivtachim Holdings Ltd. entered into a joint venture agreement with the aim of investing in the development, financing, construction and ownership of solar power projects in Israel.

On October 16, 2017, Canadian Solar announced that it entered into contracts to sell interests in three solar farms in Queensland, Australia, with an aggregate 117MWp of capacity to Foresight Solar Fund Limited.

On September 12, 2017, Canadian Solar announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Recurrent Energy, and Peninsula Clean Energy signed a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement for 100MW of solar power.

On September 6, 2017, Canadian Solar announced that it acquired the 80.6MWp Guimarania solar photovoltaic project in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Canadian Solar will build the project and provide the modules for the project from its local factory in Brazil.

On August 30, 2017, Canadian Solar announced that it successfully completed construction and started commercial operation of a 27.3MWp solar photovoltaic power plant in Tottori Prefecture, Japan.


ENF Profiles For Companies Mentioned in This Article

CSI(Canadian Solar) (Solar Materials): https://www.enfsolar.com/directory/material/2540
CSI(Canadian Solar) (Solar Panels): https://www.enfsolar.com/directory/panel/2540
CSI(Canadian Solar) (Solar Components): https://www.enfsolar.com/directory/component/2540
CSI(Canadian Solar) (Solar System Installers): https://www.enfsolar.com/directory/installer/2540
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