Hanwha SolarOne rises on 1Q sales, better prices

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of solar-power company Hanwha SolarOne Co. advanced Thursday after the company reported stronger first-quarter sales, including more revenue from new markets, and said conditions in the industry are improving.

Hanwha SolarOne makes solar wafers, cells and modules. It said shipments grew 80 percent compared with a year ago. Prices also rose, and the company said they appear to have stabilized. The Chinese company added that it is doing more business in new markets, as more than half of its shipments went to Japan and South Africa, where sales prices are higher than average.

The company said it has seen major improvements since the fourth quarter.

U.S. shares of Hanwha SolarOne picked up 9 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $1.98 in morning trading. The shares rose as much as 16.4 percent earlier in the day.

The company said it lost 225.9 million yuan ($36 million) over the three months ended March 31. That totals 43 cents per American Depositary Share. In the first quarter of 2012 Hanwha SolarOne took a loss of 303.7 million yuan. Revenue grew 34 percent to 1.11 billion yuan ($177 million).

The company said it shipped products with a total capacity of 289.1 megawatts, up 80 percent from a year ago. It made a third of its sales to Japan, which it considers an emerging market for its products, and 21 percent to South Africa in its first quarter of doing business there.

Solar companies have struggled in recent years as a worldwide glut sent panel prices plummeting. The glut stemmed from an increase in manufacturing capacity at a time when renewable energy subsidies had begun to shrink, especially in Europe, which is the world's biggest solar market. Hanwha SolarOne said overcapacity is not as severe as it was because some companies have shut down operations or become financially insolvent.

The company said it is now shipping about 30 percent of its capacity to Europe. In past years it has made most of its sales there.