Yingli Green Energy Hold. Co. Ltd. Falls Behind in Race for Solar Profits

Yingli Green Energy Hold. Co. Ltd. (NYSE: YGE  ) reported first-quarter 2014 earnings this morning and results were a bit of a mixed bag for the company. Revenue was up only 0.7% from a year ago and down 28.8% sequentially to $408.9 million. That overshadowed gross margin improving from 12.7% last quarter to 16.6% this quarter and led to a $55.0 million, or $0.35 per share, net loss. Shares were up 10% as of 11 a.m.

Management said it still expects to ship 4.0 GW to 4.2 GW of solar panels this year, an increase of 23.7% to 29.9% from a year ago. 400 MW to 600 MW of that will go to systems the company is building, primarily in China.

The problem Yingli Green Energy has long term is $2.44 billion of debt hanging over the company and no net income to pay off the debt. That makes buyers leery of the warranty provided and means the company has less capital to invest in the next generation of solar equipment.

Yingli is one of the biggest solar manufacturers in the world, but it isn't one of the strongest financially, so that will keep me out of the stock. There are simply better options for investors, particularly companies with larger downstream businesses, where the value is currently being added in solar.

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