On the heels of positive solar earnings calls from SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWRA), Suntech (NYSE:STP), Jinko Solar (NYSE:JKS) and Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ), Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE) has just turned in a solid third quarter report with better than expected results.  Yingli is one of the globe's largest vertically integrated solar firms.

  • Q3 Revenue: $491 million (vs. Street at $477 million)
  • Q3 Gross Margins: 33.3 percent (vs. Street at 31.7 percent)
  • EPS: $0.44 (vs. Street at $0.36).

Management raised its outlook for 2010 shipments to 1,020 to 1,040 megawatts (from 950 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts prior) and gross margins to 32 percent to 32.5 percent (from 31 percent to 32 percent before).  Operating income was $110.0 million, representing an operating margin of 22.4 percent, and net income was $68.2 million.

Liansheng Miao, Chairman and CEO of Yingli Green Energy, said, “PV module shipment volume increased by 25.2 percent from the second quarter and gross margin was 33.3 percent, higher than our previous estimation in the range of 31 percent to 32 percent.”

  • The firm has launched a total of 700 megawatts of new capacity expansion projects, which are expected to start initial production in the middle of 2011 and increase nameplate capacity to 1.7 gigawatts in late 2011.
  • Yingli's PANDA cell conversion efficiency has achieved 18.5 percent on their commercial production lines and they expect to increase the figure to 20 percent towards 2012.

Outlook for Full Year 2010

Yingli raised its PV module shipment target to the estimated range of 1,020 megawatts to 1,040 megawatts from the previous estimated range of 950 megawatts to 1,000 megawatts for fiscal year 2010, which represents an increase of 94.2 percent to 98.0 percent compared to fiscal year 2009. The net revenue for full year 2010 is estimated to be in the range of $1,780 million to $1,810 million.

Yingli raised its gross margin target to the estimated range of 32.0 percent to 32.5 percent from the recently raised estimated range of 31 percent to 32 percent for fiscal year 2010.

A simple valuation puts Suntech with a forward P/E of 9.5x FY11 EPS estimates, compared to 15.2x for First Solar (NASDAQ: FSLR), 7.7x at Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE), and 7.2x for SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWRA).

The big solar firms have turned in strong quarters and appear to have visibility out to Q4 2010 and Q1 2011.  Things start to get a bit murkier past that and should get interesting mid-2011.