August 26, 2014 / 12:48 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Trina Solar plans overseas plants to bypass U.S. duties

* Sees robust demand from the United States despite tariffs

* Q2 shipments rise 69 pct vs Q1, expected to rise in Q3

* Q2 revenue rises lower-than-expected 18 pct

* Shares fall as much as 10 pct (Adds CFO, analysts’ quotes; details, background)

By Shubhankar Chakravorty

Aug 26 (Reuters) - Trina Solar Ltd said it was working on plans to set up manufacturing sites overseas, becoming the latest Chinese solar company looking to work around U.S. tariffs on solar products made in China and Taiwan.

Trina Solar’s shares fell nearly 10 percent in morning trade after the company also reported a lower-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue and outlined plans for new plants - a move that could hike costs.

The United States last month extended duties to solar products made in Taiwan, plugging a loophole that allowed companies to bypass duties on China-made products by moving manufacturing to Taiwan.

Trina Solar pays tariffs of 23 percent on its China- and Taiwan-made products, lower than the industry average of about 31 percent. Tariffs vary depending on the U.S Department of Commerce’s evaluation of the extent to which a company engages in “dumping” practices.

Rivals ReneSola Ltd, Canadian Solar Inc and JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd have also indicated that they were looking to set up plants outside of China and Taiwan.

S&P Capital IQ analyst Angelo Zino said on Tuesday that South America, Middle East and Africa were good options for Chinese solar companies to expand manufacturing.

Trina Solar, which did not identify locations for its new plants, said the new U.S. tariffs had not deterred the robust demand from customers in the country.

“Demand for our products has increased even after the (U.S.)ruling ...,” Trina Solar Chief Financial Officer Teresa Tan said on a conference call. “We are still able to make a profitable sale into the market.”

Trina Solar shipped 943.3 megawatts (MW) of solar panels in the second quarter ended June 30, below its forecast of 950-1,010 MW, but 69 percent higher than the first quarter.

The company said it expected panel shipments to rise to 1,060-1,120 MW in the current quarter due to higher demand from China, South America and the United Kingdom.

Weak selling prices in China weighed on revenue and also dragged down gross margin to 15.4 percent in the second quarter from 20.6 percent in the first quarter.

Total shipments to China jumped to 33.8 percent from 12.2 percent in the preceding quarter, while those to the higher-margin Japanese market nearly halved.

Revenue rose 18 percent to $519.4 million, but missed the average analyst estimate of $562.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net profit attributable to Trina Solar was $10.7 million, compared with a loss of $33.7 million a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, it earned 14 cents per American depositary share, matching the average analyst estimate.

Trina Solar shares were down 8.6 percent at $12.22 in afternoon trading. (Reporting By Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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