Yingli Green shipments hurt by stalled Italian market in Q1; remains bullish on shipments in 2011

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The stalled Italian PV market had a noticeable effect on Yingli Green's figures for the first quarter. Module shipments decreased by a low teen percentage from Q4 2010 with revenue reported for Q1 2011 at US$527.3 million, compared to US$616.1 million in Q4 2010. Gross profit was US$144.1 million, representing a gross margin of 27.3% and an operating margin of 16.5%. However, Yingli expects shipments to increase by more than 30% in Q2 and reiterated previous guidance of module shipments of between 1.7 and 1.75GW in 2011.

The company noted that the decrease in gross margin quarter-over-quarter was primarily due to the increase of outsourced cell production and polysilicon spot prices, as well as a slight decrease in average selling prices.

“In the first quarter of 2011, we experienced a sudden demand slowdown in Europe, primarily due to the uncertainties relating to the feed-in-tariff policy change in Italy and the severe winter season conditions in Germany,” commented Liansheng Miao, chairman and chief executive officer of Yingli Green Energy. “However, despite a lower-than-expected shipment in the past quarter, we remain confident to accomplish our full-year shipment guidance of 1.7 to 1.75 GW through continuously optimized global sales strategies.”

Emphasis is being placed on shifting sales channels further towards rooftop markets in Europe, while expanding further into the US market. It was also noted that the company's success in the Chinese market could be enhanced by new proposals to expand PV installations.

The strong demand seen since Q1 – coupled to entering several emerging markets such as South East Asia, South America and the Middle East – has meant that Yingli management remain confident of its previously guided shipment figures for 2011, which would represent a 60.1% to 64.8% increase compared to the fiscal year 2010.

“Although solar policy changes in certain European countries have caused short term market fluctuations, in the long term, we continue to view Europe as one of our most important markets. We will continue to enhance our long-term strategies by cooperating with our existing customers, as we believe they have demonstrated experience to weather market downturns, proven capabilities to tackle challenges of low demand cycles, strong technical innovations at system level to offer competitive solar power solutions to end users, and successful penetration into new and emerging markets in and beyond Europe. As a result of policy changes, demand in Europe is shifting from the ground-mounted segment toward roof-tops. Our major customers continue to tune their business strategies and align their resources to benefit from this market transition. To ensure we are well positioned for new opportunities created, we also continue to select and build relationships with new customers with proven track records of technical and operational excellence in accessing the roof-top segment,” added Miao in a prepared statement.

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