The fallout of the Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy continues as JA Solar Holdings Co. (NDSQ: JASO) blames its dealings with the investment bank for its third-quarter losses Wednesday.
The Chinesesolarcell maker posted a third-quarter loss of $21 million, or 36 cents per share, compared with a net profit of $24.4 million, or 17 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2007. The company reported a 149 percent jump in revenue to $312.3 million in third quarter from $125.2 million from the year-ago period.
The financial market turmoil has caused "panic" among solar energy equipment makers, said JA Solar CEO Samuel Yang in a conference call with analysts. Solar energy equipment makers who have increased production in the past year to meet demands are now worried about oversupply.
The company plans to renegotiate silicon supply contracts to get better prices. The faltering economy and the dramatically weakened euro have led JA Solar to slash its sales forecast.
JA Solar now expects its 2008 revenue to reach between $849.5 million and $878.9 million. It had previously anticipated $1.05 billion to $1.17 billion. The 2009 revenue forecast has been chopped to between $1.5 billion and $1.7 billion, instead of the previously announced $2 billion to $2.2 billion.
The company's shares plummeted nearly 26 percent to reach $2.48 per share in recent trading.
JA Solar took a serious beating as a result of its relationship with Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy in September. The solar company took a $100 million loss from its short-term investments with Lehman. JA Solar also recorded a loss of $7.35 million in derivatives deals with the investment bank, which is now largely owned by U.K.-based Barclays.
On top of that, it had to factor in shares it loaned to Lehman as part of a fund-raising effort in which JA Solar sold $400 million worth of senior convertible notes. Companies use share-lending agreements to help boost their stock's value.
In all, JA Solar loaned Lehman 6.56 million shares of its common stock that Lehman was supposed to return by May 15, 2013. If Lehman hadn't gone belly-up, JA Solar wouldn't have had to count those shares as outstanding. Of those shares, JA Solar included 1.1 million shares in calculating its third-quarter earnings, the company said.
JA Solar is but one of many solar companies that have seen their finances eroded by deals with Lehman. Marlboro, Mass.-based Evergreen Solar, which also entered into share-lending agreement with the bank, filed a lawsuit against Lehman and Barclays last month. Evergreen (NDSQ: ESLR) contended that Lehman should have returned the 30.9 million shares to Evergreen instead of selling them to Barclays (see Evergreen Sues Barclays, Lehman for Shares).
The strong surge of the U.S. dollar against the euro is causing a significant impact on solar companies' finances. Europe is the largest market for makers of solar cells and panels, and a weak dollar in the past helped to keep the prices of U.S. goods low.
The unfavorable exchange rate has prompted San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp. to warn that its earnings for the fourth quarter and 2009 could fall as a result (see Stocks Stumble After SunPower Lowers Forecast).
Thomas Weisel Partners issued a research note Tuesday that gave SunPower props for its strategies to weather the bad economy, but it cautioned that demand for solar products will remain weak in the near future.
"We see SunPower coming out of the credit crisis a stronger company," write Jeff Osborne, an analyst with Thomas Weisel. "We see weak demand trends in the near term across all major markets and geographies, which will negatively impact the group, not just SunPower."
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