Applied Materials continues downsizing of solar operations



In a continued effort to return its Energy and Environmental Solutions (EES) division to breakeven, despite two-years of downsizing and restructuring, Applied Materials said it had reduced EES spending per quarter to US$25 million.

Applied Materials solar PV related equipment segment that includes screen printers and wire saw technologies is a segment with its EES division but also includes unrelated web coating tools.

According to its first fiscal quarter of 2014, Applied’s EES sales were down 9% quarter-on-quarter to US$40 million. New order intake was said to have been US$40 million.

Management noted in a call to discuss financial results that ESS was expected to more than double net sales in the second fiscal quarter, without providing further details.

However, Gary Dickerson, president and CEO said, “To further improve our model, we also reduced EES spending to below US$25 million in Q1, down 40% from the same quarter last year. Our goal is for EES to breakeven for the year.”

The EES restructuring plan, which was initially discussed in March, 2012 had a goal of lowering the division’s annual revenue breakeven point to US$500 million by the end of its 2013 fiscal year.

The continued downturn in capital spending due to chronic overcapacity across the supply chain meant that the company accelerated the downsizing though the last 12-months.

Although the PV industry is in a new expansion phase due to increased global end-market demand, sectors primarily served by Applied Materials have to recover.

The worst overcapacity remains at the ingot/wafering sector, which forced GT Adanced Technologies to abandon the DSS furnace segment last year, citing little prospects for capacity additions for more than a year.

However, recent manufacturing acquisitions and JVs by JinkoSolar and Trina Solar to add capacity at the solar cell sector suggest tightening supply and a possible earlier than anticipated recover in new solar cell equipment purchasing as the year progresses.

Finlay Colville, vice president of NPD Solarbuzz told PV Tech that he expected further expansion plans by Trina Solar as well as market leader Yingli Green soon.

“The announcement from Trina is effectively calling out for 400MW of new c-Si cell capacity by the middle of 2014, and this takes us one step closer to the strong pickup in PV capex being forecast for 2015, when GW fab expansions are expected to become the norm,” said Colville.

Applied Materials has been a key supplier of screen printers to Trina Solar and Yingli Green in the last buy cycle.

Read Next

Subscribe to Newsletter

Most Read

Upcoming Events