(STP) Suntech Power Holdings Reports Fourth Quarter Preliminary Numbers

Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (STP) has provided preliminary financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2012 for the period ending Dec 31, 2012.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, revenues were approximately $358 million, down 8% from the sequentially preceding quarter. Suntech’s photovoltaic (“PV”) products shipments also declined sequentially by 4%. Approximately 91% of the revenues came from sale of PV modules and the balance was generated from the sale of PV systems, cells, silicon wafers and production equipment. Gross margin for the quarter came in at 0.4%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the fourth quarter of 2012 is currently at $435 million.

For full year 2012, revenues were approximately $1,625 million, down 48% on a year-over-year basis. However, shipments of 1.8 gigawatt (GW) were in line with the guidance. Of the total revenue 92% came in from the sale of PV modules while the balance 8% was generated from the sale of PV systems, cells, silicon wafers and production equipment. Gross margin for full year 2012 was negative 1.4% approximately. However, these results are preliminary and are subject to further adjustments.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for first quarter 2013 is currently a loss of 51 cents per share.

Suntech has in fact not released its quarterly results since the second quarter of 2012. For the four quarters preceding that period Suntech had incurred successive losses owing to a steep fall in average selling prices of solar panels.

The company announced that it will delay the filing of its annual report on Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended Dec 31, 2012 beyond the filing deadline of Apr 30, 2013. This is due to the pending restatement of the company’s consolidated financial statements for 2010 and 2011. In Dec 2012, the company announced its intention to file restated consolidated financial statements for 2010 and 2011. Management stated that it will take additional time to complete the restatement due to the pending reassessment of the Global Solar Fund, S.C.A., Sicar (“GSF”).

Also, the filing delay is due to the restructuring initiatives taken by the company at Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Ltd. (Wuxi Suntech), its main operating unit in China. Wuxi Suntech has sunk into insolvency while Suntech Power International Ltd. (“SPI”), the company’s principal operating subsidiary in Europe, has received a provisional moratorium for up to two months on creditor claims.

One other reason for the delay is that the company is in discussions with major holders of the 3% Convertible Notes in order to achieve a consensual restructuring. In Mar 2013, Suntech received a notice of default and acceleration relating to Suntech’s non-payment of the principal amount of $541 million that was due to holders of the Notes.

Currently, the company is facing the threat of losing the right to trade. Last month, the New York Stock Exchange declared that the company did not meet the NYSE’s price criteria for continued listing standard because, as of Apr 4, 2013, the average closing price of the company’s American Depositary Shares’ (“ADS”) was less than $1.00 per ADS over a consecutive 30-trading-day period.

In spite of the many threats looming large it seems that the company is undertaking a number of restructuring initiatives to address its balance sheet and improve the cost structure and operational efficiency. In March this year, the company announced that it will stop production at its Goodyear, Ariz., solar panel manufacturing facility. This decision comes in the wake of higher production costs due to import tariffs on solar cells and aluminum frames imposed by the U.S. government, as well as global solar module oversupply.

The company presently retains a short-term Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Stocks worth considering in the space are ReneSola Ltd. (SOL), STR Holdings, Inc. (STRI) and Trina Solar Limited (TSL), all with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
RENESOLA LT-ADR (SOL): Free Stock Analysis Report

SUNTECH PWR HLD (STP): Free Stock Analysis Report

STR HOLDINGS (STRI): Free Stock Analysis Report

TRINA SOLAR LTD (TSL): Free Stock Analysis Report

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