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Suntech Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2007 Financial Results

Posted on 2008-02-20
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 20, 2008 /Xinhua-PRNewswire via COMTEX News Network/ -- Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), one of the world's leading manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, today announced fourth quarter and full year 2007 financial results. Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2007 Highlights(1) -- Fourth quarter 2007 total shipments were approximately 110MW and total net revenues grew 82.5% year-over-year to $397.5 million. -- Full year 2007 total shipments were approximately 364MW and total net revenues grew 125.1% year-over-year to $1,348.3 million. -- On a non-GAAP(2) basis, Suntech's net income for the fourth quarter 2007 was $58.2 million or $0.34 per diluted American Depository Share (ADS). Each ADS represents one ordinary share. -- On a non-GAAP basis, Suntech's net income for the full year 2007 was $201.0 million or $1.19 per diluted American Depository Share (ADS). -- Suntech group's non-GAAP gross margin in its core Wafer-to-Module business was 23.3% for the fourth quarter of 2007 and 23.6% for the full year 2007. -- Achieved second sequential quarter of positive operating cash flow due to improved inventory management and cash management in the fourth quarter of 2007. -- Suntech's PV cell production capacity increased to 540MW as of year end 2007. The company is on track to reach 1GW PV cell production capacity by the end of 2008."I am pleased to report healthy revenue growth and exceptional market demand for Suntech's solar products in the fourth quarter," said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's Chairman and CEO. "We have a strong sales pipeline for the full year 2008 and expect robust demand to continue in 2009 as new solar markets in countries such as Italy, Greece and South Korea grow to complement demand in Germany, Spain and the U.S. Suntech is in a strong position to capitalize on this demand as we implement a range of cost reduction initiatives and we expect to simultaneously grow revenues and margins in 2009." "In 2007, Suntech more than doubled revenues, successfully transitioned our 20% efficiency Pluto technology into pilot production, diversified our sales markets and expanded our product range. These achievements have laid a strong foundation for 2008 and we are confident that over the coming year our strategies for rapid capacity growth, low cost innovation, sales region and product diversification, and balanced silicon procurement will increasingly differentiate Suntech as a leading player in the solar industry," Dr. Shi concluded. Commenting on Suntech's silicon supply, Dr. Shi said, "We successfully developed a strong silicon supply pipeline of 530MW for 2008. Suntech's silicon outlook for 2009 is even more promising. Due to the silicon supply contracts we signed in the fourth quarter with Asia Silicon (Qinghai), Nitol Solar, Renesola and a Korean conglomerate, we believe that our silicon costs will fall more than twice as fast as our projections of our average sales prices in 2009. We are confident that this will enable Suntech to expand production and improve profitability in 2009." Suntech increased PV cell production capacity from 420MW at the end of the third quarter of 2007 to 540MW at the end of 2007. Dr. Shi commented, "Our current capacity expansion is on track to hit our stated goal of 1GW PV cell production capacity by the end of 2008. The majority of this expansion will occur in the second half of 2008. To optimize our production volume and margins, approximately 60% of our full year production target of 530MW will be produced in the second half of 2008." Recent Business Highlights Products and Projects -- Suntech announced a license agreement with Akeena Solar to distribute Akeena's state-of-the-art solar panel technology, Andalay, in Europe, Japan and Australia. A valuable addition to Suntech's growing portfolio of solar products, Suntech targets sales of over 10MW of the Andalay solar panels to the licensed regions in 2008. -- Suntech was granted the National Export Inspection Exemption by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) of the People's Republic of China. The export inspection exemption is China's highest honor awarded to companies that demonstrate exceptional internal product quality management and control. Suntech is the first Chinese solar company to receive this national recognition. -- Suntech supplied PV modules for a solar energy system on the roof of the town hall in Genk, Belgium. The project was engineered by Netherlands-based Oskomera Solar Power Solutions (OSPS) in collaboration with Belgium-based ENECO Energie. The system was constructed with approximately 1,260 Suntech solar modules with a capacity of 239kW. Global Offices -- Suntech opened sales offices in Germany and Spain to strengthen its European sales network and broaden Suntech's ability to serve customers. Suntech expects these offices to increase the Company's ability to respond to demands in these new markets, enhance customer relationships and help build Suntech's market position. -- Suntech opened a sales office in South Korea to accelerate its business development efforts and customer service capabilities in Asia. Through this new location, Suntech seeks to expand its collaborations with key partners in South Korea and further solidify its position as a leading supplier of PV modules in South Korea. With a growing sales team in South Korea, the Company targets five-fold sales growth in that region from 2007 to 2008. Industry Support and Recognition -- Dr. Zhengrong Shi was named one of China's Green Persons of the Year for his outstanding contribution to environmental protection initiatives and environmental awareness within China. The national award, sponsored by seven Chinese government institutions, is China's highest honor for those that make exceptional contributions to environmental protection. -- Suntech hosted the 2007 Chinese PV Industry International Competitiveness Forum on behalf of the China Renewable Energy Association on December 12, 2007, in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China. -- In November 2007, Suntech supported The Green Long March initiative to promote increased understanding of environmental successes and challenges in China, and encourage sustainable development. Fourth Quarter 2007 Results Non-GAAP Non- Net Gross GAAP Revenues Profit Gross (in $ % of Net (in $ Margin millions) Revenues millions) (%) Standard PV Modules $392.9 98.8% $87.1 22.2% - Wafer to Modules 365.5 91.9% 85.0 23.3% - Cell to Modules 27.4 6.9% 2.1 7.6% Others 4.6 1.2% (1.3) (27.1%) Total Net Revenues $397.5 100% $85.8 21.6%Total net revenues for the fourth quarter of 2007 were $397.5 million, representing an increase of 82.5% from the corresponding period in 2006. Non-GAAP gross profit for the fourth quarter of 2007 was $85.8 million, an increase of 74.9% year-over-year. Non-GAAP gross margin for the Company's core wafer-to-module business was 23.3% and non-GAAP consolidated gross margin was 21.6%. Non-GAAP operating expenses in the fourth quarter of 2007 totaled $27.3 million and accounted for 6.9% of total net revenues. The increase of operating expenses was primarily due to foreign exchange losses related to the depreciation of the USD against the CNY in the fourth quarter 2007. Foreign currency exchange loss recorded in operating expenses was $6.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared to $1.2 million in the third quarter 2007. Non-GAAP income from operations for the fourth quarter of 2007 was $58.5 million, an increase of 71.2% year-over-year. Non-GAAP operating margin was 14.7%. Non-GAAP net income for the fourth quarter of 2007 was $58.2 million, an increase of 64.0% year-over-year, or $0.34 per non-GAAP diluted ADS. On a GAAP basis, for the fourth quarter of 2007 gross profit was $82.7 million, an increase of 70.6% year-over-year. Gross margin for the core wafer to module business was 22.4%. Consolidated gross margin was 20.8% for the fourth quarter of 2007 compared to 22.3% for the fourth quarter of 2006. The year-over-year decrease in consolidated gross margin was mainly due to increased wafer costs, the appreciation of the CNY and increased production of modules utilizing third party PV cells in 2007. On a GAAP basis, operating expenses for the fourth quarter of 2007 were $32.1 million. Income from operations was $50.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2007, an increase of 70.3% year-over-year. Operating margin was 12.7%. Net income was $50.6 million, an increase of 61.1% year-over-year, or $0.29 per diluted ADS. In the fourth quarter of 2007, capital expenditures, which were primarily related to production capacity expansion and the construction of Suntech's new production facilities, totaled $42.3 million and depreciation and amortization expenses totaled $4.3 million. Full Year 2007 Results Non-GAAP Non- Net Gross GAAP Revenues Profit Gross (in $ % of Net (in $ Margin millions) Revenues millions) (%) Standard PV Modules $1,331.7 98.8% $284.6 21.4% - Wafer to Modules 1,172.8 87.0% 276.4 23.6% - Cell to Modules 158.9 11.8% 8.2 5.2% Others 16.6 1.2% 0.2 1.5% Total Net Revenues $1,348.3 100% $284.8 21.1%Total net revenues for the full year 2007 were $1,348.3 million, representing a 125.1% increase from 2006. On a non-GAAP basis, for the full year 2007 gross profit was $284.8 million, an increase of 88.3% year-over-year. Gross margin for the Company's core wafer-to-module business was 23.6% for the full year 2007. 2007 consolidated gross margin was 21.1% compared to 25.3% in 2006. Income from operations was $202.7 million, an increase of 71.9% year-over-year. Net income was $201.0 million, an increase of 67.8% year-over-year, or $1.19 per diluted ADS. On a GAAP basis, for the full year 2007 gross profit was $274.1 million, an increase of 84.1% year-over-year. Gross margin for the Company's core wafer-to-module business was 22.7% for the full year 2007. 2007 gross margin was 20.3% compared to 24.9% in 2006. Income from operations was $171.6 million, an increase of 66.2% year-over-year. Net income was $171.3 million, an increase of 61.6% year-over-year, or $1.02 per diluted ADS. In the full year 2007, capital expenditures, which were primarily related to production capacity expansion and the construction of Suntech's new production facilities, totaled $162.7 million and depreciation and amortization expenses totaled $20.5 million. Suntech's balance of cash and cash equivalents was $521.0 million at December 31, 2007, compared to $588.6 million at September 30, 2007. Inventory totaled $176.2 million at December 31, 2007, compared to $164.3 million at September 30, 2007. Business Outlook Based on current operating conditions, Suntech expects revenues for the first quarter of 2008 to be in the range of $370 million to $380 million. Non-GAAP consolidated gross margin in the first quarter of 2008 is expected to be slightly higher than the fourth quarter of 2007. These expectations also take into account what is a seasonally slow quarter for Suntech due to the shorter month of February and the Chinese New Year holidays which were somewhat worsened by the severe weather conditions experienced in the first quarter of 2008. For the full year 2008, Suntech expects total PV module shipments to be 530MW and revenues to be in the range of $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion. Within 2008, Suntech believes that approximately 40% of this will be achieved in the first half of 2008 and 60% in the second half of 2008. Suntech expects that greater quantities of reasonably priced silicon will become increasingly available from mid-2008. Suntech targets to reach 1GW of installed PV cell production capacity by year-end 2008. Senior Management Hires Mr. Jeffrey Shubert was hired as Director of Marketing of Suntech America and Director of Global Marketing Strategy, based at Suntech's U.S. headquarters in San Francisco. He will lead the marketing team in the U.S. to position Suntech for future sales growth in the key Americas region and provide strategic leadership to the global marketing team to ensure that all marketing programs are developed and executed for maximum impact and results. Mr. Shubert has over 20 years experience in strategic marketing, in the U.S. and internationally, working with a broad range of companies in many industry sectors. Most recently he was Vice President, Client Service for Nimblefish Technologies, a major developer and operator of marketing engines and was a consultant to Cisco Systems. Mr. Shubert also spent six years in Asia, serving as a Senior Vice President at Foote Cone & Belding International and President of Foote Cone & Belding International Japan. Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2007 Conference Call Information Suntech management will host a conference call today, Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time (which corresponds to February 20, 2008 at 9:00 p.m. Beijing/Hong Kong time) to discuss the company's results. To access the conference call, please dial +1-617-786-4511 (for U.S. callers) or +852-3002-1672 (for international callers) and ask to be connected to the Suntech earnings conference call. A live and archived webcast of the conference call will be available on Suntech's website at http://www.suntech-power.com under Investors: Events. A telephonic replay of the conference call will be available until March 2, 2008 by dialing +1-617-801-6888 (passcode: 61218685).
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