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UPDATE 1-Profitability eludes solar company Yingli Green

* Posts tenth straight quarterly loss

* Fourth quarter loss shrinks

* Expects to ship 4.0-4.2 GW in 2014, vs 3.2 GW in 2013

* has 1 GW worth of power plants projects across China

* Shares down 12.5 pct

March 18 (Reuters) - Yingli Green Energy Holding Co Ltd's focus on selling solar panels in the low-margin Chinese market kept it in the red in a quarter when most of its rivals swung to profitability as they sold more panels to countries such as Japan.

Yingli's shares fell about 12.5 percent in early trading as profitability eluded the largest solar company by panel shipment volumes for the tenth straight quarter.

Trina Solar Ltd, JA Solar Holdings Co Ltd and JinkoSolar Holding Co Ltd returned to profitability as prices firmed up after a four-year slump, while Canadian Solar Inc was also helped by its high-margin solar power plants.

Yingli said on Tuesday it expected solar panel shipments to rise by as much as a third this year, as it shifts focus to sell more to newer solar markets, besides China.

Worldwide solar installations are set to rise by double digits to 40-45 gigawatts (GW) in 2014, according to IHS estimates.

Much of that is expected to be driven by power subsidies in Japan, which is banking on solar power to help meet the shortfall in supply after the Fukushima disaster in 2011 shattered public confidence in nuclear energy.

Yingli expects to ship 4.0-4.2 GW of solar panels this year, up from the 3.2 GW shipped last year.

The company's net loss shrank to $128.2 million, or 82 cents per American depositary share (ADS), in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $200.5 million, or $1.28 per ADS, a year earlier.

Revenue rose about 31 percent to $613 million.

Yingli, like its rivals, is also pushing into the more high-margin business of building solar power plants to lower its reliance on the highly-competitive business of selling panels.

Yingli said it had power plants projects worth about 1 GW in different approval stages across China, of which the construction of about 400-600 megawatts (MW) is expected to be complete by the end of this year.

The company has tied up with China National Nuclear Corp and others to build solar plants and said it was evaluating various approaches to hold or sell these projects.

Yingli, which is also building 200 MW of utility-scale projects outside China, said it was pushing into emerging markets in the sun-belt regions of Africa, the Middle East, Central and South America.

Solar companies such as SunEdison Inc and SunPower Corp are looking at retaining some solar plants, rather than selling them, to spin them off into a separate, dividend-paying entity.

Yingli shares were down 10.5 percent at $5.27 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.