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Growing Chinese demand for solar panels is bailing out the world’s largest manufacturer

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The numbers: Not bad considering that Chinese solar panel manufacturers have been losing huge amounts of money in recent years, as they deal with massive overcapacity while carrying billions of dollars on debt on their books. As the world’s largest photovoltaic module maker, Yingli is a bellwether for the industry. The company is still losing money but reported that net losses have fallen sharply over the past year, from $152 million in the third quarter of 2012 to $39 million in the third quarter of this year.

The takeaway: Sales in the third quarter jumped 8% over the second quarter to $596 million, and are 63% higher than in the third quarter a year ago. Shipments of solar panels, meanwhile, grew 5% in the third quarter from the second quarter. Key to those improving numbers is the average selling price of solar modules. The price had been in free-fall in recent years due to over-production, which sent revenues plunging. But with the price stabilizing, Yingli’s revenues are on the rise.

What’s interesting: More of Yingli’s production is going to China. The country has been rolling out new incentives for solar energy, designed to reduce its dependency on coal. Solar panels destined for China accounted for 38% of Yingli’s market in the third quarter, up from 28% in the previous quarter. Japan has become another significant market, with shipments growing by 35% in the third quarter from the second quarter.

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