Canadian Solar Inc. (“Canadian Solar” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: CSIQ), one of the world’s largest solar power companies, today announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2018. The Company also announced the appointment of Arthur (Lap Tat) Wong as an independent director of the Company, effective March 8, 2019, which increased the size of the Board of Directors from five to six directors.

Fourth Quarter 2018 and Related Highlights

  • Total solar module shipments were 1,951 MW, compared to 1,590 MW in the third quarter of 2018 and the revised fourth quarter guidance of 1.9 GW to 1.95 GW.
  • Net revenue was $901.0 million, compared to $768.0 million in the third quarter of 2018 and the revised fourth quarter 2018 guidance of $850 million to $900 million.
  • Gross margin was 30.1%, including the benefit of a U.S countervailing duty (CVD) reversal of $16.1 million, compared to 26.1% in the third quarter of 2018, and the revised fourth quarter guidance of 27.0% to 28.0%. Excluding the CVD reversal benefits, gross margin was 28.3%, compared to 25.0% in the third quarter of 2018.
  • Net income attributable to Canadian Solar was $111.6 million, or $1.81 per diluted share, compared to net income of $66.5 million, or $1.09 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2018.
  • Non-GAAP adjusted net income attributable to Canadian Solar was $99.5 million, or $1.61 per diluted share. This excludes the CVD reversal of $16.1 million, net of income tax effect. For a reconciliation of results under generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (“GAAP”) to non-GAAP results, see accompanying tables “Reconciliation of U.S. GAAP to Non-GAAP Financial Measures”
  • During the quarter, the Company completed sales of the Garland and Tranquillity solar power plants totaling 260 MWp and the 210 MWp Mustang 2 solar power project (at pre-NTP stage) in the U.S., 247 MWp of solar power plants in China and its 20% interest in the 399 MWp Pirapora portfolio in Brazil.
  • As of February 28, 2019, the Company’s portfolio of utility-scale solar power plants in operation was approximately 986 MWp with an estimated total resale value of approximately $1.2 billion. Only the value of the class B shares which the Company holds in its tax equity solar power plant in the U.S. is included in this resale value.

Full Year 2018 Results

  • Total solar module shipments were 6,615 MW, compared to 6,828 MW in 2017 and the revised full year guidance in the range of 6.56 GW to 6.61 GW.
  • Net revenue was $3.74 billion, compared to $3.39 billion in 2017 and the revised full year guidance in the range of $3.69 billion to $3.74 billion.
  • Net income attributable to Canadian Solar was $237.1 million, or $3.88 per diluted share, compared to $99.6 million, or $1.69 per diluted share in 2017.
  • Non-GAAP adjusted net income attributable to Canadian Solar was $199.4 million, or $3.28 per diluted share. (This excludes the benefit of a U.S. AD/CVD reversal of $50.2 million, net of income tax effect.)
  • Net cash provided by operating activities was approximately $216.3 million, compared to $203.9 million in 2017.

Fourth Quarter 2018 Results

Net revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018 was $901.0 million, an increase of 17.3% from $768.0 million in the third quarter of 2018, as the Company benefited from the successful monetization of solar power projects and increased solar module shipments. Net revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018 declined 18.7% from $1.11 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, due to a lower average module selling price and reduction in project revenue. The revised fourth quarter 2018 guidance was $850 million to $900 million.

Total solar module shipments in the fourth quarter of 2018 were 1,951 MW, compared to 1,590 MW in the third quarter of 2018 and the revised fourth quarter of 2018 guidance of 1,900 MW to 1,950 MW. Total solar module shipments in the fourth quarter of 2018 included 169 MW shipped to the Company’s utility-scale solar projects. Solar module shipments recognized in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018 totaled 2,076 MW, compared to 1,521 MW in the third quarter of 2018 and 1,983 MW in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Gross profit in the fourth quarter of 2018 was $271.3 million, compared to $200.4 million in the third quarter of 2018 and $218.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. Gross margin in the fourth quarter of 2018 was 30.1%, compared to 26.1% in the third quarter of 2018 and 19.7% in the fourth quarter of 2017. The fourth quarter gross margin included the benefit of a CVD reversal of $16.1 million. Excluding the CVD reversal benefits, gross margin would be 28.3%, compared to 25.0% in the third quarter of 2018. The revised fourth quarter guidance was 27.0% to 28.0%. The sequential increase in gross margin was primarily due to the realization of deferred module profits after project sales and a lower blended module manufacturing cost, partially offset by a lower average module selling price. The year-over-year increase in gross margin was primarily due to the benefit of the CVD reversal and a lower blended module manufacturing cost, partially offset by a lower average module selling price. Gross margin for the Company’s MSS business in the fourth quarter 2018 was 31.7%, or 28.8% excluding the CVD reversal benefit. This compares to a gross margin of 25.1% in the third quarter 2018, or 23.4% excluding the CVD reversal benefit in that quarter, and 15.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017. Gross margin for the Company’s Energy business for the fourth quarter of 2018 was 27.5%, compared to 28.2% in the third quarter of 2018 and 27.9% in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The Company has been operating in two principal businesses since 2016: MSS and Energy. The MSS business comprises primarily the design, development, manufacture and sale of solar modules, other solar power products and solar system kits. The MSS business also provides engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and operating and maintenance (O&M) services. The Energy business comprises primarily the development and sale of solar projects, operating solar power projects and the sale of electricity. The module sales from the Company’s MSS business to its Energy business are on terms and conditions similar to sales to third parties.

The Company develops solar power projects worldwide. Where applicable, the Company may apply for and/or be entitled to receive a feed-in tariff (FIT) for its projects. Alternatively, the Company may participate in public or private energy auctions and bidding, which results in long-term power purchase agreements (PPA). The Company may also sell all or part of the electricity generated from its solar power projects on the merchant power market. Because of the longer lead time (two to four years) to develop solar power projects and bring them to a commercial operation date (COD), the actual gross margin for a project may deviate from the expected gross margin. The deviation may be caused by, but are not limited to, changes in the political and economic conditions in host countries, project specific conditions, price movements of solar modules and other components, EPC services and the capital return requirements of solar asset buyers. In recent years, the Company has sold some solar power projects before COD. We typically refer these sales as “notice to proceed” or NTP sales. Revenue will be lower, while gross margin percentage will be higher, in NTP sales compared to COD sales, even if the absolute margin is the same. Results from the Company’s Energy business may be lumpy from quarter to quarter, depending on project NTP or COD dates, project sale transaction dates and the profit level of each project.

The following table summarizes the Company’s revenues, gross profit and income from operations generated from each business for the periods indicated:

Three Months Ended December 31, 2018
(in Thousands of US Dollars)
MSS Energy Elimination Total
Net revenues 629,716 336,214 (64,889) 901,041
Cost of revenues 472,229 243,923 (86,420) 629,732
Gross profit 157,487 92,291 21,531 271,309
Income from operations* 52,829 62,204 21,531 136,564
Twelve Months Ended December 31, 2018
(in Thousands of US Dollars)
MSS Energy Elimination Total
Net revenues 2,413,889 1,575,594 (244,971) 3,744,512
Cost of revenues 1,923,131 1,302,779 (256,480) 2,969,430
Gross profit 490,758 272,815 11,509 775,082
Income from operations* 141,609 211,539 11,509 364,657

 *The management added a new line of “Income from operations” compared to the previous quarter release in order to better disclose the earning power of the two business groups. This line is, however, an estimate based on the Company’s management accounts as some services are shared by two groups.

The following table provides a further breakdown of the Company’s revenues generated from different products or services:

Three Months
Ended December
31, 2018
Twelve Months
Ended December
31, 2018
(in Thousands of US Dollars)
MSS:
     Solar modules and other solar power products 498,538 1,930,701
     Solar system kits 24,420 93,253
     EPC and development services 21,139 62,408
     O&M services 3,296 10,767
     Other 17,434 71,789
Energy:
     Solar power projects 326,469 1,542,906
     Electricity 1,615 8,735
     Other 8,130 23,953
Total net revenues 901,041 3,744,512

Total operating expenses in the fourth quarter of 2018 were $134.7 million, compared to $104.5 million in the third quarter of 2018 and $88.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. The sequential and year-over-year increases were primarily due to a $26.8 million impairment charge related to certain manufacturing assets, and a $6 million increase in transaction fees associated with project sales.

Selling expenses in the fourth quarter of 2018 were $44.4 million, compared to $38.4 million in the third quarter of 2018 and $39.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2017. The sequential increase was primarily due to an increase in project transaction fees and shipping and handling expenses. The year-over-year increase was primarily due to higher project transaction fees and increased professional services expenses and labor costs, partially offset by a decrease in shipping and handling costs.

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Source: Canadian Solar

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