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Canadian Solar soars after posting smaller 1Q loss

NEW YORK (AP) -- Canadian Solar Inc.'s U.S. shares soared before Tuesday's opening bell after the company posted a much narrower first-quarter loss than a year ago.

In premarket trading, Canadian Solar shares jumped $2.09, or 24 percent, to $10.70. If the gains hold during the regular session, it would mark the company's highest stock price in nearly two years.

For the three months ended March 31, Canadian Solar posted a loss of $4.4 million, or 10 cents per share, compared with a loss of $21.3 million, or 49 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before.

Revenue fell 19 percent to $263.6 million from $325.8 million, as sales to European markets dropped by more than half to $65 million. American sales dropped by more than two thirds to $47.1 million, while sales to Asian and other markets, particularly Japan, more than tripled to $151.5 million.

The results were helped by a sharp drop in expenses compared with the 2012 first quarter, reflecting lower inventory write-offs, which more than offset lower shipments, along with reduced marketing expenses and lower transportation costs. Research and development spending also declined.

Solar companies have struggled recently as a worldwide glut sent panel prices plummeting in recent years. The glut stemmed from an increase in manufacturing capacity at a time when renewable energy subsidies had begun to shrink, especially in debt-strapped Europe, the world's biggest solar market.

Canadian Solar said its first-quarter solar module shipments edged down about 1 percent to 340 megawatts. Despite the decrease, the recent quarter's total exceeded the company's initial guidance of 290 megawatts to 310 megawatts.

The company said it expects its second-quarter shipments to total between 380 megawatts and 420 megawatts. For the full year, Canadian Solar said it expects its shipments to total between 1.6 gigawatts and 1.8 gigawatts.