JA Solar's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

JA Solar Holdings, Co., Ltd. (JASO)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

March 20, 2012 8:00 am ET

Executives

Dr. Peng Fang – Chief Executive Officer

Min Cao – Chief Financial Officer

Ming Yang – Vice President

Martin Reidy – Brunswick Group

Analysts

Jesse Pichel – Jefferies & Co.

Karen Tai – Piper Jaffray

Brandon Heiken – Credit Suisse

Kelly Dougherty – Macquarie Research Equities

Lu Yeung – UBS (US)

Richard Grace – RBC Capital Markets

Pavel Molchanov – Raymond James

Brian Gamble – Simmons & Co.

Nipun Sharma – Mirae Asset Securities

Presentation

Operator

Hello, and thank you for standing by for JA Solar’s Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2011 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the management’s prepared remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. Today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.

I would now like to turn the meeting over to your host for today’s conference, Martin Reidy of Brunswick Group.

Martin Reidy

Thank you. Welcome to JA Solar’s fourth quarter and full-year 2011 earnings conference call. Joining us from the Company today are Dr. Peng Fang, CEO; Mr. Min Cao, CFO; and Mr. Ming Yang, VP of Business Development and Corporate Communications.

As stated in the press release, the oversimplified transition of CNY into U.S. dollars, which is set at 6.2939 RMB to the dollar, is made solely for the convenience of the audience. References to dollars are the lawful currency of the USA.

The press release published today provides detailed financial tables for the conversion from CNY to USD. On this call, Dr. Fang will begin with an overview of our Q4 2011 results covering the business and market developments and outlook. Following that, Min will provide details of the Company’s financial performance. After prepared remarks, we will open up for questions for the remainder of the call. We expect the entire call to last approximately one hour.

Before we begin the formal remarks, I would like to remind you that certain statements on today’s call, including statements regarding expected future financial and industry growth, are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. These statements are made under the Safe Harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Factors that could cause actual results to differ include general, business and economic conditions in the solar industry; government support for the development of solar power; future shortage or availability of the supply of high purity silicon; demand for user-end products by consumers and inventory levels of such products in the supply chain; changes in the demand from significant customers; changes in demand for our major markets; changes in product mix, capacity utilization, level of competition, pricing pressures, and decline in average selling prices; delays in the introduction of new product lines; continued success in technological innovation; shortage in supply of raw materials; availability of financing; exchange rate fluctuations; litigation and other risks as described in the company’s SEC filings, included in its Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the SEC.

Although the company believes the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, it cannot guarantee future results. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. All information provided on today’s conference call speaks as of today’s date, unless otherwise stated, and the company undertakes no duty to update such information, except as required under applicable law.

I will now turn the call over to Dr. Peng Fang, CEO of JA Solar.

Dr. Peng Fang

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s call. We appreciate your interest in JA Solar. 2011 was a challenging year for the entire solar industry, but as our performance in the fourth quarter demonstrates we are making progress with our strategy to taking advantage of future growth in our industry and to position JA Solar as a key long-term winner in the solar sector.

During the quarter, we took several key steps to improve our company’s fundamentals and the balance sheet. First, we have managed the cash flow proactively, and as a result, operating cash flow turned strongly positive in Q4 to a positive $86.6 million, up from a negative $45 million in the third quarter. We were also able to achieve free cash flow during the quarter, which positions the company well for the sustainable future growth.

Second, despite a challenging business environment, we achieved a positive gross margin during the first quarter, which is a noticeable improvement from a gross margin of negative 4.3 in the third quarter.

Third, our sales volume and inventory levels during the fourth quarter remained healthy. As we focused on customer service and technology to maintain marketing share, while actively managing receivables and inventory level. We successfully implemented a number of incentive initiatives, including stringent inventory and receivable management, while maintaining healthy sales volume. Our inventory level decreased from $193.1 million in Q3 to $116.1 million in Q4. While our accounts receivables decreased from $241.8 million in Q3 to $197.8 million in Q4.

Fourth, we continue to focus on customer development globally, particularly in new markets, we have built important partnerships with leading players around the world, most notably with utility companies and independent power producers in key markets, like China, U.S. and Japan.

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