Canadian Solar to Report First Quarter 2020 Results
Canadian Solar Inc. announced financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2020.
First Quarter 2020 Highlights
- Total module shipments increased 41% year-over-year to 2.2 GW, in line with first quarter 2020 guidance of 2.15 GW to 2.25 GW.
- Net revenue increased 70% year-over-year to $826 million, exceeding first quarter 2020 guidance of $780 million to $810 million.
- Gross profit increased 108% year-over-year to $223 million. Gross margin increased 480 basis points year-over-year to 27.0%, in line with first quarter 2020 guidance of 26% to 28%.
- Net income attributable to Canadian Solar was $110.6 million, or $1.84 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $17.2 million or $0.29 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2019.
- As of March 31, 2020, the Company’s portfolio of utility-scale solar power plants in operation was 956 MWp with an estimated total resale value of approximately $830 million to Canadian Solar.
First Quarter 2020 Results
Net revenue in the first quarter of 2020 was $826 million, compared to $920 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, and $485 million in the first quarter of 2019. The year-over-year revenue growth was due to higher module shipments and project sales, partially offset by a decline in average module selling price (“ASP”).
Total module shipments in the first quarter of 2020 were 2,214 MW, compared to 2,474 MW in the fourth quarter of 2019, and 1,575 MW in the first quarter of 2019. Of the totals, 253 MW were shipped to the Company’s utility-scale solar power projects in the first quarter of 2020, compared to 295 MW in the fourth quarter of 2019, and 52 MW in the first quarter of 2019.
Gross profit in the first quarter of 2020 was $223 million, compared to $230 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, and $107 million in the first quarter of 2019. Gross margin in the first quarter of 2020 was 27.0%, compared to 25.0% in the fourth quarter of 2019, and 22.2% in the first quarter of 2019. The gross margin improvement was primarily due to an increased contribution of higher margin project sales.
Income from operations in the first quarter of 2020 was $113 million, compared to $111 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, and $7 million in the first quarter of 2019. Operating margin was 13.7% in the first quarter of 2020, compared to 12.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019, and 1.4% in the first quarter of 2019.
Non-cash depreciation and amortization charges in the first quarter of 2020 were $45 million, which is unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2019, and higher than $38 million in the first quarter of 2019.
The Company uses derivative instruments to hedge its foreign exchange positions. In the first quarter of 2020, the Company recorded a foreign exchange loss of $34 million, which was largely offset by a $33 million gain on the change in fair value of derivatives used in the Company’s foreign exchange hedging program. The resulting net loss in the first quarter of 2020 was $1 million, compared to a net loss of $3 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, and a net loss of $14 million in the first quarter of 2019.
The investment income loss of $14 million in the first quarter of 2020 was primarily attributable to an impairment provision charge with respect to our remaining 49% equity interest in the Roserock Project in the U.S.
Income tax benefit in the first quarter of 2020 was $29 million, compared to a tax expense of $25 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, and a tax benefit of $8 million in the first quarter of 2019. The tax benefit in the first quarter of 2020 was primarily due to a one-time net operating loss carryback provision.
Net income attributable to Canadian Solar in the first quarter of 2020 was $110.6 million, or $1.84 per diluted share, compared to net income of $67.7 million, or $1.12 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2019, and a net loss of $17.2 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2019.
Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented:
“We achieved a 70% increase in net revenue and 108% increase in gross profit year-over-year in the first quarter of 2020. While COVID-19’s impact on the demand for our products and services was limited in the first quarter, we remain cautious given the market uncertainty and expected softness in the second half of 2020. As with past periods of volatility, we focus on supporting our employees, customers and partners; restricting discretionary spending; and investing into long-term growth opportunities. The industry’s long-term fundamentals remain strong, with numerous catalysts for revenue and profitability growth. We are particularly excited by the market outlook for our Energy business, as lower equipment ASPs help to improve the profitability of our contracted projects. In addition, the low interest rate environment makes our solar projects even more sought-after as countercyclical investment assets. We will continue to sell and recycle capital to grow our project pipeline, while also growing stable, recurring revenues by retaining partial ownership of selected projects. Our focus remains on improving our return on capital and equity, as we manage the near-term challenges and enhance the Company’s position for sustainable long-term growth.”
Yan Zhuang, previously Acting CEO and newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, commented,
“We delivered another strong quarter, achieving net income of $110.6 million, or $1.84 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2020. In our Energy business, we completed solar power plant sales in Japan and Italy and reinforced our market leadership by reinvesting in our project pipeline. In our Module and System Solutions (“MSS”) business, we expanded our long-term partnerships with a new 1.2 GW multi-year module supply agreement with Lightsource BP. We continue to make significant progress in creating bankable and competitive solar plus energy storage solutions, leveraging our unique position as one of the world’s largest solar energy solutions providers. Taken together, our global brand, established sales and partnership networks, financial strength and proven ability to successfully adapt to market changes through technological and business model innovation, give Canadian Solar a powerful competitive advantage.”
Dr. Huifeng Chang, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, added,
“During the first quarter of 2020, we continued to strengthen our balance sheet and improve our liquidity position, which gives our partners and customers added confidence during the current market uncertainty. We reduced total debt and maintained unrestricted cash at a healthy level. Our inventory level increased in the first quarter primarily due to our strategic decision to increase module inventory in the U.S. to qualify for the investment tax credit and applicable tax credit percentage. Additionally, in light of the current macroeconomic weakness, we suspended our share repurchase program to maximize liquidity. We will continue to monitor the macroeconomic situation and take contingency measures to preserve cash and minimize risk.”
Energy Business Segment
Energy Business Strategy Update
Canadian Solar has one of the world’s largest utility-scale solar project development platforms, with a track record of originating, developing, financing, building and bringing into commercial operation over 5.6 GWp of solar power plants across six continents. As a first mover in many core markets, the Company’s Energy business has acquired significant experience and a strong competitive position in the solar project development business, with a current total project backlog and pipeline of 15.6 GWp.
Traditionally, the operating model for the Company’s Energy business has been to sell projects when they reach their notice to proceed date (“NTP”) or commercial operation date (“COD”), depending on the optimal exit point for each project based on its specific risk and return profile. In certain cases, the Company has retained a minority ownership interest in order to capture additional operational value throughout the partial ownership holding period, while securing project equity recapitalization during the early lifecycle of the solar assets. An example of this is the Canadian Solar Infrastructure Fund (“CSIF”), a publicly traded investment fund akin to a real estate investment trust, holding operating solar assets in Japan. CSIF has been listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange since 2017 and remains 15% owned by the Company. In addition to continuing to grow its project backlog and pipeline, the Company is evaluating ways of replicating its successful Japanese strategy in other markets, focusing on those regions with strong energy demand, attractive power prices and stable capital markets. There are two key benefits to this approach:
- It will permit Canadian Solar to capture higher margins, recycle a large portion of capital, while at the same time building a base of recurring revenue streams from power sales, operations and maintenance (“O&M”), asset management and other services, and to create new growth opportunities, including energy storage systems integration and optimization.
- Over time, the addition of predictable and stable revenues and cash flow from power sales, O&M, asset management and other services will help smooth the more typical lumpiness associated with the development and sale of solar power projects.
Management targets to achieve the following project sales and accumulated project ownership retained in the next 5 years:
|Energy Business Targets||2020||2021||2022||2023||2024|
|Annual Project Sales, GWp||1.1-1.3||1.8-2.3||2.4-2.9||3.2-3.7||3.6-4.1|
|Cumulative Projects Retained (including inventory to be sold), MWp||~30||~130||~410||~760||~960|
Note: There are uncertainties regarding the closing dates of project sales in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions. Forecasts for annual project sales
To help fund this approach, the Company is evaluating ways to create capital partnerships with long-term investors seeking to deploy patient capital in clean, profitable and countercyclical solar energy infrastructure investments, either through public or private investment vehicles. Management believes the Company’s solar assets are now more attractive to investors seeking stable yields given the low rate environment, which will help build sustainable long-term value for Canadian Solar’s shareholders. The Company will make further progress updates as it executes on this strategy.
Project Backlog and Pipeline
As of March 31, 2020, the Company’s total project backlog and pipeline totaled 15.7 GWp, of which the project backlog totaled 3.7 GWp. The backlog includes projects that have passed their Cliff Risk Date and are expected to be built in the next one to four years. A project’s Cliff Risk Date depends on the country where the project is located and is defined as the date on which the project passes the last of the high-risk development stages. This is usually the receipt of all required environmental and regulatory approvals, interconnection agreements, feed-in tariff (“FiT”) arrangements and power purchase agreements (“PPAs”). All projects in the current backlog have secured a PPA or FiT or are reasonably assured of securing one.
The Company’s project pipeline totaled 12 GWp. The pipeline includes early- to mid-stage project development opportunities that have been identified but have not yet passed their Cliff Risk Date. These include projects that have been approved by the internal Investment Committee or projects that are reasonably expected to be brought to the Investment Committee soon.
|Project Backlog and Pipeline (as of March 31, 2020)|
|Europe, the Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”)||206||2,159||2,365|
|Asia Pacific excluding Japan||584||676||1,260|
|Note: Backlog represents the gross MWp size of projects, including 63 MWp
in Latin America and 89 MWp in EMEA already sold to third parties.
We believe there are significant near- and long-term growth opportunities in the solar plus storage market, with demand being driven by declining battery storage costs, higher capacity needs and accelerating retirements of fossil fuel power plants. The Company intends to expand its presence in the solar plus storage space and is in advanced discussions with a number of off-take parties for a sizeable part of its project pipeline.
The table below sets forth the Company’s storage project backlog and pipeline as of March 31, 2020.
Projects in Construction
In addition to its project backlog and pipeline, the Company has 807 MWp of solar projects in construction.
|Projects in Construction (as of March 31, 2020)|
|Note: Latin America portfolio includes 508 MWp of projects already sold
at NTP, with milestone revenue recognition over the 2019-2021 period.
The Company has in hand a sizable amount of high premium projects in Japan. The table below sets forth the expected COD schedule of the Company’s project backlog in development and construction in Japan, as of March 31, 2020:
|Expected COD Schedule (MWp)|
Solar Power Plants in Operation
As of March 31, 2020, the Company’s power plants in operation totaled 956 MWp, with an estimated total resale value of approximately $830 million to Canadian Solar. The estimated resale value is based on selling prices that Canadian Solar is currently negotiating or transaction prices of similar assets in the relevant markets.
|North America||Latin America||Japan||Asia Pacific
|Note: The table represents the gross MWp size of the power plants in operation,
including 108 MWp in North America and 26 MWp in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan,
already sold to third parties.
The following table presents unaudited select results of operations data of the Company’s Energy business segment for the periods indicated,
|Energy Business Segment Financial Results
(In Thousands of U.S. Dollars, Except Percentages and Unless Otherwise Stated)
|Three Months Ended|
|March 31, 2020||December 31, 2019||March 31, 2019|
|Cost of revenues||148,339||182,424||22,174|
|Income (loss) from operations||67,358||15,199||(12,925)|
Module and System Solutions (MSS) Business Segment
The table below sets forth the Company’s manufacturing capacity expansion plan from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
|Manufacturing Capacity (MW)|
|March 31, 2020
|June 30, 2020
|December 31, 2020
The Company’s manufacturing capacity expansion plan is subject to change based on market conditions and the Company’s capital allocation plan.
The following table presents unaudited select results of operations data of the Company’s MSS business segment for the periods indicated.
|MSS Business Segment Financial Results*
(In Thousands of U.S. Dollars, Except Percentages and Unless Otherwise Stated)
|Three Months Ended|
|March 31, 2020||December 31, 2019||March 31, 2019|
|Cost of revenues||540,931||551,517||369,664|
|Income from operations||61,498||113,850||20,741|
|Note: *Includes effects of both sales to third party customers and to the Company’s Energy Business Segment. Please refer to the
attached financial tables for intercompany transaction elimination information. Income from operations reflect management’s
allocation and estimate as some services are shared by the Company’s two business segments.
The table below provides the geographic distribution of the net revenue of the MSS business:
|MSS Net Revenues Geographic Distribution* (In Millions of U.S. Dollars, Except Percentages)|
|Q1 2020||% of Net Revenues||Q4 2019||% of Net Revenues||Q1 2019||% of Net Revenues|
|Europe and others||161||27||145||21||159||36|
*Excludes sales from the MSS business to the Energy business.
Canadian Solar shipped 2.2 GW of modules to more than 80 countries in the first quarter of 2020. The top five markets of the MSS business ranked by revenues were the U.S., Brazil, Japan, Spain and the Netherlands.
Multi-crystalline modules accounted for 72% of the Company’s module shipments in the first quarter of 2020, and mono-crystalline modules accounted for 28%. The Company has the flexibility to produce both multi-crystalline and mono-crystalline modules, with the mix decision depending on the relative profitability and levelized cost of electricity (“LCOE”) of the alternative products.
The Company’s business outlook is based on management’s current views and estimates given existing market conditions, order book, production capacity, anticipated timing of project sales, and the global economic environment. This outlook is subject to uncertainty with respect to, among other things, final customer demand and project construction and sale schedules, and the ongoing global impact of COVID-19. Management’s views and estimates are subject to change without notice.
For the second quarter of 2020, the Company expects total module shipments to be in the range of 2.5 GW to 2.7 GW, including approximately 200 MW of module shipments to the Company’s own projects that may not be immediately recognized as revenues. Total revenues are expected to be in the range of $630 million to $680 million, with gross margin expected to be between 18.5% and 20.5%.
The Company continues to expect total solar module shipments for the year of 2020 to be in the rage of 10 GW to 12 GW, as previously guided. In light of the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 with respect to business conditions in the second half of 2020, however, the Company is withdrawing its 2020 annual financial guidance.
Dr. Shawn Qu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented: “While demand has remained relatively strong into the second quarter, there are uncertainties in the global COVID-19 environment relating to the timing of certain project sales which had been scheduled for this year. In addition, we have seen declines in module and input material ASPs, with the timing and scale of these declines creating uncertainty with respect to profit margins. We expect these dynamics to be temporary in nature, however, given the attractiveness of solar investments worldwide. We also note the accelerating development of the solar plus storage market, which we expect will become a more meaningful contributor to our future revenue growth. Over the longer term, we remain well-positioned for continued success as solar power achieves grid-parity in an increasing number of markets. We will continue to benefit from our diversified revenue and manufacturing base, healthy balance sheet and liquidity, and strong relationships with customers, suppliers and financing partners.”
Dr. Qu added, “I am pleased to announce that Yan Zhuang has been appointed as President and Chief Operating Officer of Canadian Solar, ceasing to be Acting CEO. In this position, Yan will continue to oversee the business operations of both the Company’s Module and System Solutions and Energy businesses. I am grateful for Yan’s leadership during my recovery period and look forward to continuing to work closely with him in the future.”
On May 24, 2020, Yan Zhuang, who was serving as Acting Chief Executive Officer, was appointed as President and Chief Operating Officer of Canadian Solar, effective immediately.
On April 27, 2020, Canadian Solar Infrastructure Fund, which is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), was included in a new TSE Infrastructure Funds Index.
On April 14, 2020, Recurrent Energy, the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, received unanimous approval from the Mississippi Public Service Commission to execute a build-transfer agreement with Entergy Mississippi for the 100 MWac Sunflower solar power project.
On April 2, 2020, Canadian Solar secured $30 million in funding from the China-Portuguese Speaking Countries Cooperation and Development Fund to fund the development and construction of solar power projects in Brazil.
Source: Canadian Solar
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