Thermal processing equipment specialist, BTU International reported a major order for its in-line diffusion tools for a PV manufacturing customer, originally announced in January, 2011 had been put on hold. Deliveries of the first half of the order have started but will extend into 2012, according to the company. The equipment supplier noted a broad weakening of demand from PV manufacturers that it expected to continue through 2011. BTU reported second quarter net sales of US$19.0 million, down from US$25.4 million in the preceding quarter. Net income for was at breakeven, compared to a net income of US$1.8 million in the preceding quarter.
“Although our quarter was obviously affected by the customer delay in shipments of a large solar order, we are satisfied with our performance in the second quarter of 2011,” noted Paul J. van der Wansem, BTU chairman and CEO. “Net sales of US$19.0 million, modestly better than our guidance, led to break-even results. Sales reflected solid contributions from our electronics business, which delivered the majority of our major systems revenue for the second quarter.”
Net sales for the first six months of 2011 were US$44.4 million compared to US$35.2 million for the first six months of 2010.
However, factory utilization was said to be weaker due to the solar equipment order and shipment slowdown, which impacted margins in the quarter. Lower utilization rates, especially at its factory in China would persist this year.
Management noted keen interest from c-Si cell manufacturers in its dual lane inline diffusion furnaces as they offer 2x throughput at only a 1.5x price premium to single lane systems.
Management also noted customer engagements regarding migrating from batch furnace technology to inline diffusion systems as cost issues continue to dominate PV manufacturers purchasing requirements.
“The worldwide slowdown in the solar marketplace has impacted our outlook for the year and our near-term revenue will be weighted towards our electronics products rather than solar products, with revenue in the US$17 to US$18 million range and somewhat lower gross margins than the previous quarter. We are encouraged by the recent results of our latest generation solar products and maintain strong confidence in our role in the future of the solar marketplace,” concluded van der Wansem.