(Canadian Solar earnings story updated for market close, and with analyst comments on Canadian Solar eanings.)ONTARIO, Canada ( TheStreet) -- Canadian Solar ( CSIQ) fourth-quarter earnings, announced on Wednesday morning during the pre-market, were a fait accompli -- the solar company had pre-announced in mid-February. Canadian Solar's optimistic guidance for 2010 is more likely to be the focus of investors on Wednesday. Canadian Solar came in with a record fourth quarter in revenues ($287 million) and shipments (155.5 megawatts), and gross margins of 15.4%, in the mid-teens level it told investors to expect after problems at its new ingot and wafer plant caused higher costs and lower yields in the fourth quarter. Canadian Solar's revenue level in the fourth quarter bested the street estimate of $267 million, however, Canadian Solar fell short on earnings per share, with EPS of 35 cents, below a street estimate of 46 cents for the quarter. The shortfall on EPS by Canadian Solar could have been caused by the higher costs associated with its new plant slowdown, as well as foreign exchange losses that Canadian Solar said equaled $5 million in the fourth quarter. Additionally, Canadian Solar stated that it had increased sales, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses during the quarter, to support increased year-end shipments and to prepare for a big 2010. SG&A expenses were almost double the previous quarter and the fourth-quarter 2008 levels. How big a 2010 does Canadian Solar predict in terms of ramping up spending ahead of it? Notably, Canadian Solar did not provide revenue guidance for 2010 in the earning release. In 2009, Canadian Solar had provided early year revenue guidance with a high-end of $800 million. Canadian Solar finished the year at $663.8 million in revenues. Canadian Solar said in the first quarter of 2010, it expect shipments of approximately 180 MW to 190 MW and gross margin again in the mid-teens, potentially indicating that the combination of a decline in average sales price across solar, foreign exchange risk, and its remediation efforts with its plant production problems, will continue to keep its margins lower than its loftiest margin ambitions.
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