The 1Q13 financial results of PV manufacturers were successively released in June. Affected by the Q1 off season of the European market as well as the Chinese New Year off season, even though the reduced subsidy in Germany and U.K. has boosted demands, the amount of shipments of global PV manufacturers still decreased. However, since product price started to rise this year, their revenue didn’t decline significantly.
According to the Silver Member Report of EnergyTrend (a research division of TrendForce), the deficit of first-tier manufacturers was significantly reduced this quarter and their gross margin has started to rise from the bottom. In order to distribute risk, manufacturers have slowly shifted business to other markets; this will also be conducive to market expansion, and due to the increased price, PV manufacturers may start gaining profit.
Benefiting from PV applications, US manufacturers still excelled in revenue performance
Though US manufacturers didn’t have the largest amount of shipments, they achieved the highest revenue and profit. This was mainly because they shifted their business to the downstream market; First Solar’s power systems revenue this quarter accounted for 74% of their total revenue, and SunPower established many rooftop or large system constructions in North America, Europe and Japan.
Chinese manufacturers are still gaining a considerable amount of revenue due to their large amount of shipments. Yingli has the largest amount of shipments and the highest revenue, but they also faced the highest net loss. This suggests that cost reduction no longer allows manufacturers to seize market shares; instead, increasing profit by their downstream system projects is the major solution. Considering the financial status of the manufacturers as well as the large amount of funds required for the downstream system investment, manufacturers who can maintain a balance between profit and funds will be able to perform successful business.
Europe is still an important PV market, if the final ruling of the anti-dumping investigation is to impose a heavy punitive tariff on Chinese manufacturers, it may be difficult for Chinese manufacturers to gain more profit. In order to prevent this situation, the Chinese government has been trying to stimulate local demands and Chinese manufacturers have been searching for other solutions. Even though the European market still accounts for the most demands, their influence on China is lightened. Moreover, product price in Europe and the US has already been reduced and nearly no profit could be obtained by manufacturers. Therefore, manufacturers have shifted their business to other places such as Japan and Australia.
As for manufacturers’ development in Q1, Jinko has continued to increase the amount of shipments to China; JA Solar and Hanwha SolarOne achieved successful business in Japan (a market with significant demands) this year; Trina Solar achieved considerable profit in Japan and India, but due to the decreased domestic sales, they still gained most of their revenue in Europe; REC and Canadian Solar also increased their shipments to the Asia market and reduced shipments to Europe.
Benefiting from the anti-dumping policy, some Taiwanese cell manufacturers may start to gain profit in June
EnergyTrend further indicated that if Jinko continues to maintain their low cost advantage and increase their market share, as the Chinese manufacturer with the highest gross margin, they may resolve deficit. JA Solar, on the other hand, has already seized the Japanese market; it is expected that their shipments will continue to increase and their revenue is likely to grow continuously. Although according to Trina’s Q1 financial results, they didn’t have strong profitability, they still managed a balanced financial status; it is expected that their shipments will increase and they may achieve a considerable profit.
Although Chinese manufacturers have already been planning to shift their business to other markets in order to avoid the impact of the punitive tariff, large overseas expansion plans will not occur until the final ruling is announced. Therefore, manufacturers’ profit still depends on the development of each market. Due to the transferred orders, Taiwanese cell manufacturers will still gain profit in the short term. According to the recently released revenue in May, Gintech’s revenue increased of 18.5% from April; NSP and Solartech’s revenue increased by 10%.
2013 will be the year of change to the market, and changes in Q1 are crucial to the future market development. Although manufacturers are still facing net loss, they have greatly improved their financial status. Along with the surge of shipments in Q2 and the development of emerging markets in H2, manufacturers have modified their strategies and gained profit from the increasing demands. EnergyTrend believes that in between all the trading issues, instead of being restricted to certain markets, PV applications may expand more quickly to other places in the world. In conclusion, manufacturers who can maintain a stable liquidity, build a strong brand, and integrate other PV applications will eventually succeed in the market.