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Solar Major Weathers Coronavirus Storm

By Yang Ge / Mar 31, 2020 12:54 PM / Economy

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Things were looking sunny last year for JA Solar, one of the world’s top solar panel makers. But investors were more focused on what lies ahead during these uncertain coronavirus times, even as the company reported (link in Chinese) its 2019 profit soared 87% to 1.3 billion yuan ($183 million), even as its revenue rose by a more modest 7.7% to 21.2 billion yuan.

Despite those healthy gains, JA Solar warned that the heavens themselves could prevent a repeat performance in 2020. It used the Chinese term for “act of God” or “force majeure” as a major risk it faces this year due to potential impact from the coronavirus pandemic now sweeping the world.

It gave that outlook as a raft of research houses are ratcheting down their global demand forecasts for solar panels this year, especially in the non-China market that now accounts for about three-quarters of JA Solar’s sales.

Earlier this month BloombergNEF lowered its forecast for new solar installations in 2020 to 108-143 gigawatts (GW) from a previous 121-154 GW — representing a downward adjustment of 7% to 10%. UBS has lowered its outlook even more, by about 13%, to 130 GW.

But UBS analyst Alex Liu said the downward revision isn’t a major cause for concern, since most solar farm builders are saying they still plan to go ahead with their projects. They just may get delayed by several months due to logistical issues created by the virus. Investors seem to be taking the news in stride, with JA Solar’s stock largely holding steady during the last two trading days.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

Related: China's GCL to Build World’s Biggest Solar Panel-Making Plant


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