Advanced Energy considers PV inverter sell-off

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Power control manufacturer Advanced Energy (AE) is considering the future of its PV inverter business with a sell-off not ruled out.

The company confirmed that it is looking at a number of options for the unit including licensing, partnerships and a sale.

“As part of our annual strategic planning process, we reviewed our entire business to determine the best portfolio mix to achieve our strategic objectives and build shareholder value,” said Yuval Wasserman, president and CEO. “We concluded that the Solar Inverter business as currently configured required a review of our strategic alternatives to capitalize on its strong product portfolio and customer relationships,” he added.

The company said in a statement that it would make no further comment on the unit until a decision had been taken. It also stressed that there was no guarantee that a sale was imminent.

AE has been losing market share recently, according to IHS data, as a number of Asian manufacturers have muscled out European and American competitors.

AE has recently come under pressure from financial analysts to consider exiting the PV inverter market as it has struggled to increase sales, despite the introduction of a new central inverter and the acquisition of string inverter firm, REFUsol in 2013. 

The company had also undertaken a major restructuring and relocation of inverter production to China to reduce manufacturing costs and become more competitive in the market. 

Part of the problem has been that AE’s PV inverter sales have declined 19.4% sequentially to US$52 million in the last quarter, this despite a booming US PV market.

Management had noted in its last earnings conference call that its sales decline was due to customers delaying PV power plant projects, due to the US anti-dumping case. 

However, it was somewhat of a baptism of fire for the new CEO in the last earnings call as financial analysts fired a salvo of tough questions over its continued poor performance in the PV sector, repeatedly asking in one way or another if it was better to exit the PV inverter market. 

German manufacturer SMA announced earlier this month that it was lowering guidance and increasing the number of job cuts.

Additional reporting by Mark Osborne.

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