UPDATE 3-Canadian Solar turns to Japan to drive shipment growth

Tue May 28, 2013 12:49pm EDT
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* Sees second-quarter shipments of 380 MW to 420 MW vs 340 MW in first quarter

* Expects 35-40 pct of second-quarter shipment from Japan

* First-qtr loss/share $0.10 vs estimate $0.78

* Shares up as much as 24 percent (Adds analyst comments, conference call details, updates shares)

May 28 (Reuters) - Canadian Solar Inc reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss and said it was ramping up exposure to high-margin Japan as it reduces dependence on China, where intense competition has driven down panel prices.

Shares of Canadian Solar, which has most of its manufacturing operations in China, shot up as much as 24 percent. Prices of other solar stocks also rose.

Solar manufacturers turned to China for new business after trade disputes threatened to shut them out of the United States and Europe but heavy competition has squeezed already-weak margins, forcing them to seek new markets.

Japan has become more attractive for solar companies as the country moves away from nuclear power following the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Canadian Solar's panel shipments to Japan jumped 75.9 percent in the first quarter from the fourth quarter, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the company's shipments.   Continued...