The last three months of 2008 turned out to be a much worse quarter for LDK Solar (NYSE: LDK) than expected.

The Chinese silicon wafer maker on Wednesday revised the estimates for its fourth-quarter financial results, saying it likely generated $415 million to $425 million in revenue. The company had already reduced its fourth-quarter estimates once last month, when it said the revenue was likely to fall between $425 million and $435 million (see LDK Solar Lowers Sales Outlook, Delays Factory Plan).

The company, based in Xinyu City, now plans to take $210 million to $220 million in inventory write-downs as a result of a fast decline in wafer prices. LDK expects to report a negative gross margin and a net loss of $135 million to $145 million when it releases the full financial results on March 11.

The company's shares fell 11 percent to $7.98 per share in after-market trading.

The company's estimate of its wafer shipment for the fourth quarter remained unchanged: 245 megawatts to 255 megawatts. The silicon wafers are used to make solar cells, which are then assembled into panels for installation.

The 2008 revenue will likely be $1.63 billion to $1.64 billion, on a net income of $145 million and $155 million, the company said. The company shipped between 810 megawatts and 820 megawatts worth of wafers last year.

LDK also decided to delay adding more factory capacity by one quarter. It had previously planned to increase the capacity to 2.3 gigawatts by the end of 2009. Now it expects to reach 2 gigawatts instead.

The company plans to delay completing a polysilicon factory with an annual capacity of 15,000 metric tons. LDK is installing the equipment in three phases, and the last phase will be carried out in 2010 instead of 2009. The first two sets of equipment, for a combined production capacity of 10,000 metric tons, would be up and running this year, the company said.

LDK has been building two factories to produce polysilicon, the raw material for making wafers, for its own use. Last month, the company said it wasn't able to bring another, smaller polysilicon factory to full production by the end of 2008. LDK said it would reach that goal by the middle of 2009.

Now, the company plans to increase the smaller factory's capacity to 2,000 metric tons per year by the end of 2009.

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