PV tool supplier Roth & Rau cuts Q2 expectations, rescinds 2011 forecast, as customers cancel orders

Citing the “deterioration in the overall industry climate as well as delays in the recognition of sales and earnings for projects currently under way,” Roth & Rau has cut expectations for the second half of 2011 and withdrawn its forecast guidance for the year.  “Given the reduction in demand for solar modules,” the company stated, “some customers have reviewed their investment projects intended to expand their production capacities and postponed the agreed delivery dates.”

The firm noted a downward trend in its order book, saying it received new bookings of around €29 million in the second quarter, but saw these orders offset by cancellations of €17 million.

As a result, Roth & Rau said it will “have generated a lower level of consolidated sales and significantly negative EBIT in the first half of 2011.”

The company has withdrawn its previously issued annual forecast, in which it said it expected to see full-year consolidated sales of €300 million to €325 million, with an EBIT margin in a range of 4– 7%.

Because of the market uncertainty, the company said it cannot issue any reliable forecast for 2011.

A takeover bid of Roth & Rau by Meyer Burger Technology is on the verge of closing, pending completion of the antitrust review process by Chinese authorities. In late June, Meyer Burger announced it had successfully completed the acquisition of 81.89% of the share capital of the German equipment firm through a voluntary public tender offer.

The latest announcement comes amid increasing concerns over the near-term health of the photovoltaic capital equipment space. Solarbuzz recently issued a forecast that sees tool supplier revenues declining by almost half during 2012, noting that vendors such as Roth & Rau serving expansions in the crystalline-silicon sector would be especially hard hit.      

"The drop-off in bookings through Q2'11 is entirely consistent with the equipment spending cycles impacting on c-Si cell process tool suppliers,” Solarbuzz’s Finlay Colville told PV-Tech. “Tool cancellations and pushouts from Tier 2 c-Si cell manufacturers in China have been expected, as original expansion plans for 2H'11 are revised due to overcapacity in the midstream segment."

"Revenues available for c-Si cell passivation-layer/ARC deposition tools are projected to see sharp Q/Q declines through 2H'11 and 1H'12,” he continued. “By Q4'12, quarterly revenues will be down to 40% of their Q1'11 peak.”

“During this period, the customer base will also change dramatically. In Q1'11, 50% of revenues were derived from Tier 1 c-Si cell manufacturers (less than 20 companies); by Q4'12, the Tier 1 group will account for more than 80% of the reduced served addressable market. Tier 1 alignment is essential to participate in the equipment spending upturn from 2013 onwards," he concluded.

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