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JA Solar 4Q loss widens on continued weak demand

NEW YORK (AP) -- JA Solar Holdings Co. said Monday that its fourth-quarter loss widened, hurt by continued weak global demand for solar products.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the Chinese solar company's loss totaled RMB 637.9 million ($102.4 million), or RMB 16.50 ($2.65) per American depository shares, compared with a loss of RMB 429.6 million, or RMB 12.25 per ADS, in the same quarter last year.

Each ADS represents five ordinary shares.

Revenue fell 14 percent to RMB 1.67 billion ($268.1 million) from RMB 1.95 billion in the year-ago period.

JA Solar said its shipments rose 26 percent to 500 megawatts — beating its own guidance of 380 megawatts to 420 megawatts — helped by higher shipments to Japan and China.

But the company said its results continued to be pressured throughout 2012 by tough market conditions, forcing it to cut prices and reducing its profitability.

Solar panel prices have tumbled as the Chinese government pushed hundreds of small players into the industry. New companies still were springing up in 2011 even after Western countries, hammered by the global crisis, cut subsidies. Supplies surged as sales growth stalled, forcing sellers to slash prices to unprofitable levels.

JA Solar said that in an effort to cut costs and boost efficiency, during the recent quarter it reduced its capacity by 300 megawatts of cell production and 300 megawatts of module production.

For the full-year 2012, JA Solar posted a loss of RMB 1.72 billion ($275.8 million), or RMB 44.1 ($7.10) per ADS, compared with a loss of RMB 564.3 million, or RMB 16.90 per ADS, in 2011. Revenue fell to RMB 6.77 ($1.09 billion) from RMB 10.27 billion.

The company said it expects its first-quarter shipments to total between 410 megawatts and 430 megawatts. Module shipments are projected at between 1.7 gigawatts and 1.9 gigawatts.

JA Solar's U.S. shares fell 18 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $3.95 about 45 minutes ahead of the market opening Monday.