Restructuring and cost-cutting efforts at PV equipment and technology specialist, Amtech Systems helped limit fourth quarter financial year losses to US$1.7 million, a highlight in what has been another difficult year for the company.
The company noted that solar segment sales in the quarter had been negligible as a recovery in solar cell capital spending had yet to materialise.
Net revenue for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 was US$6.9 million compared to US$10.4 million in the previous quarter.
Total customer orders were US$8.4 million in the quarter, including only US$100,000 in its solar segment.
Amtech reported an order backlog of US$26.8 million, up 8% compared to total backlog of US$24.8 million in the prior quarter. The company said that its solar segment backlog stood at US$17.1 million.
However, as management noted in a conference call to cover financial results, it had two ‘IonSolar’ ion implant tools that were already shipped to customers but could not be clear when revenue would be recognised.
The company will also ship from backlog to Nexolon in the US, both diffusion and PECVD systems for its new advanced cell line. However, Amtech does not expect revenue recognition for these systems to start until September, 2014 onwards.
The company is also shipping a third ion implant tool to technology partner ECN in the Netherlands, which will be used in tandem with its Tempress diffusion and deposition equipment already at the R&D centre as it continues to support the development of high-efficiency next generation solar cell technology.
Net revenue for fiscal year 2013 was US$34.8 million, compared with net revenue of US$81.5 million in 2012 and US$246.7 million in 2011.
Net loss was US$20.1 million, compared to a net loss of US$23 million in 2012.
Hint of order recovery
Management remained unable to quantify when solar cell customers would engage in new orders for next generation technology, noting that Taiwan customers tended to react before Chinese customers. Indeed, Chinese customers were said to not be in a rush to buy new equipment as they were only in evaluation mode for technology choices at this time and in accordance with Chinese Government action to push companies to higher efficiencies should they want to remain in the market.
Fokko Pentinga, Chief Executive Officer of Amtech said: “Although demand is soft, activity in the market has increased. Discussions with current and potential customers further validate that our technologies strongly position Amtech as a global technology solutions company. We are increasingly optimistic that the second half of 2014 will reflect a renewed demand for our products.”