The losses keep piling up for Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE) and today even rosy projections for shipments next year couldn't keep the stock from dropping like a rock.
This morning, the company said that fourth-quarter revenue was up 31% to $613 million but it still lost an adjusted $47.9 million, or $0.31 per share, after pulling out a provision for inventory purchase commitments. The loss came primarily because gross margin was just 12.2% and wasn't enough to cover $42.4 million in interest expenses on $2.4 billion in debt.
On the plus side, shipments are expected to grow from 3.2 GW in 2013 to between 4.0 GW and 4.2 GW in 2014 with margins increasing as well. But Yingli still has its massive debt load and if it can't make a profit in today's market when the highest-quality Chinese solar manufacturers are swinging to profits it may be too late to compete in solar's future.
The challenge for Yingli will be affording the next generation of solar equipment, which the industry will start installing in late 2014 or 2015. New equipment can lower costs and increase efficiency and if it catches on as planned companies without the balance sheet to invest will be left in the dust. I think debt is too much for Yingli to overcome and its fourth-quarter loss is just another sign of that.