Suntech Power Holdings released preliminary fourth quarter and full-year results early, highlighting better-than-expected module shipments in the fourth quarter but recorded impairment charges of US$571 million due to market conditions. Revenues in the fourth quarter of 2011 were said to be in the range of US$610 million to US$630 million. Gross margin is expected to be in the middle of the previously guided range of 9% to 11%. Suntech expects shipments in 2011 to be approximately 2.09GW, above previous guidance of 2GW. Full year revenue was expected to be in the range of US$3.13 billion to US$3.15 billion.
“Our sales and operations teams both performed well in the fourth quarter, enabling us to achieve key goals and improvements across our business,” commented Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's chairman and CEO. “We exceeded shipment guidance and improved our cash position through ongoing management of accounts receivable and inventory. We also completed the impairment assessment for the third quarter of 2011. The charges that we incurred were all non-cash and will not impact our operations moving forward. We will continue to implement the initiatives necessary to maintain our position as the leading supplier of solar panels.”
Suntech would seem to have benefited from the strong demand for modules seen in the fourth quarter, notably from Germany and the US. The company noted that it had significantly reduced accounts receivable and inventory by approximately US$450 million.
The company said that it had exceeded shipment guidance for the fourth quarter with only a 10% decline from the third quarter, compared to guidance of a 20% decline.
Suntech is expected to publish updated financial results for the third quarter of 2011 together with its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2011 on March 8, 2012.