Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Trina Solar's very understanding banks...

Trina Solar is fast becoming a test-piece about just how understanding a Chinese bank can become.

They have just produced some pretty ordinary numbers (as pre-announced) but it the massive changes in their balance sheet that are really interesting.


Trina Solar Limited
Unaudited Consolidated Balance Sheet
(US dollars in thousands)




June 30

March 31

June 30



2011

2011

2010








ASSETS







Current assets:







Cash and cash equivalents


$            630,978

$        489,820

$          639,517
Restricted cash


53,260

64,813

45,758
Marketable Securities


315

426

443
Inventories


226,303

179,780

96,395
Project assets


43,472

42,110

23,877
Accounts receivable, net


584,046

542,967

313,042
Current portion of advances to suppliers


64,049

82,370

42,895
Prepaid expenses and other current assets, net

101,948

90,297

53,256
Total current assets


1,704,371

1,492,583

1,215,183
Property, plant and equipment


751,480

663,851

533,795
Project assets- long term


2,614

-

-
Prepaid land use right


36,661

36,854

27,139
Advances to suppliers - long-term


129,138

94,807

87,205
Investment in affiliates


320

319

-
Deferred tax assets


14,667

15,405

10,481
Other noncurrent assets


28

196

1,352
TOTAL ASSETS


$         2,639,279

$     2,304,015

$       1,875,155








LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY






Current liabilities:







Short-term borrowings, including current portion of long-term debt


$            342,953

$        153,286

$          161,557
Accounts payable


315,004

253,223

197,789
Convertible note payable


137,870

137,065


Income tax payable


20,139

46,656

9,436
Accrued expenses and other current liabilities

130,305

132,487

60,220
Total current liabilities


946,271

722,717

429,002
Long-term bank borrowings


382,631

295,652

331,152
Convertible note payable


-

-

134,644
Accrued warranty costs


50,205

44,194

27,508
Other noncurrent liabilities


17,223

18,454

14,740
Total liabilities


1,396,330

1,081,017

937,046








Ordinary shares


40

40

40
Additional paid-in capital


646,925

644,628

638,457
Retained earnings


579,183

567,423

291,572
Other comprehensive income


16,601

10,707

8,040
Total shareholders' equity


1,242,749

1,222,798

938,109
Non-controlling interest


200

200

-
TOTAL LIABILITIES AND SHAREHOLDERS' EQUITY
$         2,639,279

$     2,304,015

$       1,875,155












Cash went up from $490 million to $631 million - an increase of $141 million.

But that was the end of the balance sheet good news.

Short term debt went up from $153 to $343 million. They borrowed $190 million short term.

And long term debt went up from $296 to $383 million. They borrowed another $87 million.

So another way to look at it is that the company chewed through a net (190+87-141=) 136 million despite their (much lower) stated profit.

What gives? Its a widget company with stated profit but cash burn.

Actually we know what gives - the company still can't sell their product to customers that actually pay.

Inventory went up from $180 to $226 million. This company is still shipping to warehouses...

Receivables went up from $543 to $584 million. So they are selling to people who are slow to pay (but who have probably already received irrevocable delivery of solar panels and installed them into levered solar parks. (The project financier almost certainly has the collateral now!)

The rest of the cash burn wasn't really burn - it was (another) large increase in capacity. These increases are happening despite the obvious problems this company has in selling its inventories.

As I said - the banks are very understanding.

And they will need to be because the company has contracted to buy lots more silicon and it needs to increase its output substantially. They tell us that the silicon price will be lowered in accordance with the contract. That is great: they are going to need it.

Today at my office in Sydney I was cold-called by a solar panel installer. Business is quiet so they were drumming up business. They want to sell me panels at an installed price (with inverters etc).  The panel price was $1.35 per watt. Not kidding - way below where Trina is currently booking sales.

The brand was Alex Panel - another company which the salesman assured me was "planning to list on the New York Stock exchange".

Trina say next quarter will be better. At $1.35 per watt sold by retail-cold-call in Sydney I don't quite see it.



John

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

1.35$ is really very cheap.

Don't know what power prices are in your area, but at that solar cost and in your climate - it must be becoming competitive without any subsidy.

Nemo Incognito said...

Given their last loan facility previously discussed was at 10% over best lending rates in China, how the hell do you fund yourself at 7x debt/EBITDA if you borrow at 13-14%? I guess this is policy lending in China....

Really the convertibles here are super dooper cheap. Unlikely they default if the state still loves them and its a cheap option with free carry.

Alternately, well, they're screwed.

calvert said...

Why did they borrow $190 short-term when they have $630 in cash on the balance sheet?

Anonymous said...

How many people pre-pay suppliers to the tune of $200 Million?

Anonymous said...

For accuracy's sake might be noted that listed nominal output could be misleading the same way car engine's top HPs - it's the curve that actually matters. About a year ago I talked to oil/gas guys, they among other thing tried small bits of solar power here and there and found that actual, round-clock output including weather conditions was not directly proportional to listed capacity - some leaders-on-paper would drop output too sharply when light goes below perfect. They said even suppliers weren't able to explain or accurately predict those effects with various brands.
But that's of course low-two digits % difference, not times, so underlying point stands.

Same Russian guy who was happy with Guanxi explanation,
Dmitry.

Anonymous said...

$1.35 AUD or USD? Because $1.35 USD is well above the current market price (around $1.20 USD currently)

John Hempton said...

AUD $1.35 a watt sold retail by someone cold-calling - that is interesting...

J

Anonymous said...

Hey John,

Have you checked out the company that is quoting the $1.35 figure? If something sounds too good be true, then it should be worth checking out whos behind it.

Cheers,

Anonymous said...

Alex Solar?

You mean this?

http://www.alex-newenergy.com/index.html

They got an agent in Australia in June, according to their News page.

Andrew Simms said...

By best guess is that Trina Solar is being financed by subsidies from the Chines government, or through a bank intermediary to expand capacity. If global solar demand tanks because of an economic contraction in Europe, the Chinese government will be the buyer of last resort since it needs to diversify away from its coal only energy policy and It wants to rapidly grow local green energy suppliers. So watch out for the Chinese government put on solar stocks...

Anonymous said...

I read an article about Evergreen Solar (R.I.P.) that was written before their bankruptcy. The author of the article was wondering aloud why the bondholders hadn't closed them down, as they had defaulted.

Then I remembered the Lehman debacle... the bond holders were loaned shares of Evergreen as part of their convertible debt deal. They were completely hedged. So, I'm bringing this up because maybe Trina's banks are short the equity or are hedged perfectly somehow. Maybe they have some off balance sheet puts or something funky.

Dishonest Chinaman said...

cough *political influence* cough

Trina's CEO is also a politburo member of Changzhou city politburo.

Trina is based in Changzhou.

this is not about guanxi/connections, political influence is one step above guanxi.

Dylan said...

(1) on the inventory increasing, you have to remember that Solar sales have a lot of seasonality (sales come in Back-end loaded throughout the year and there was a lot of uncertainty in key mkts ie. Europe over last few months, so I expect inventory to deplete..this phenomenon happened last year too)...plus goldman says the sector is bottoming out..so cant be too bearish (2) No one in their right mind would sign a contract for $4b of poly over however many years @ a certain price without outs, and im sure they can get out of it (ie. how STP got out of their MEMC contract this qtr)...so i disagree with the "they have to grow like crazy or go bust" thesis(3) Could it be possible that this $1.35/W you recieved would be net of subsidies? And if so, have you worked out how many years it would take for you to breakeven on your investment in a solar panel?...that could be very interesting..in my humbe opinion, once it gets to about 3yrs or even 5yrs...these panels will sell like hotcakes. Your thoughts appeciated.

Anonymous said...

What's so different about Trina?

Almost all the Chinese panel makers are running high debt/cap with a significant portion of the debt being short-term, and at implied interest rates more commonly found amongst the senior secured investment grade bonds of U.S. utilities than commodity manufacturers in the midst of a supply glut and economic challenges in their main markets.

They almost all have massive off balance sheet purchase obligations that swing wildly from year to year. It's more common than not for these guys to either be integrating vertically or making strategic investments in, or advance payments to, the same poly-si makers they have the purchase commitments with.

It looks and feels like a coordinated strategy to create national champions. It's opaque as hell. Clearly the culture of the industry is promotional.

If anything, the difference with Trina is the presence of those LOCs in the hands of suppliers you pointed out the other day. But how can you be sure that what you see is real?

I don't know how a person can value companies like these. You don't know if the inputs to the financial statements are real. There is so much happening behind the scenes that's not knowable.

If I know one thing that's actionable it's that FSLR and SPWRA are on the business end of this activity and by the time China gets done with them they probably won't be trading above book.

Vinson said...

John, it seems to me that you're making your bet primarily based on that $14.5 billion 5-7 year poly-si supply purchase obligation. So, you believe that number (and contract), but don't believe other numbers (and/or comments). What gives? Although your reasoning makes sense - if you can believe what you read in those numbers - how on earth do you make a massive bet with such uncertainty in the sources? If you don't believe one number or comment, how can you believe the others?

Sounds like you might owe your investors an explanation, eh?

Thanks for the posts, nonetheless...:)

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