Energy Conversion Devices sees profits soar, signs thin-film solar PV deal with Marcegaglia

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Energy Conversion Devices saw its quarterly revenues rise 16% and its net income increase 28%, largely because of the continued growth of its United Solar Ovonic subsidiary. The company also signed a long-term agreement with Marcegaglia to supply flexible thin-film photovoltaic cells to the Italian steel manufacturer for integrated commercial roofing products under development.

ECD’s total consolidated revenues for its first fiscal quarter were $95.8 million, compared with $82.4 million in the previous quarter and $47.0 million in the first quarter of FY2008. Solar product sales made up $89.5 million of the total, a 16% sequential increase and a 124% increase over the prior-year quarter. First-quarter net income was $12.7 million, compared to net income of $9.9 million in the previous period.
The gross margin for solar product sales in the quarter was 33.4%, while the total gross margin was 34.1%. Uni-Solar produced 30.8 MW and shipped 29.5 MW of solar laminates in the first quarter, compared with production of 26.2 MW and shipments of 25.7 MW in the previous quarter. The average selling price for solar laminates during the quarter was $3.04.

The company said it expects revenues to end up between $100 million and $108 million for the second quarter and between $455 million and $485 million for the fiscal year ending June 30, with the lion’s share of the revenue stream coming from the Uni-Solar unit.

“Fiscal 2009 is off to a strong start and demand continues for Uni-Solar products from our target markets in Europe, Asia and the US,” said ECD president/CEO Mark Morelli. “We recognize that there are new challenges in the present environment, and we are actively managing our business model accordingly.

“For example, our ongoing commitment to operational excellence enabled us to complete the retrofit of our Auburn Hills 1 facility quickly, while simultaneously ramping a new production line in Greenville ahead of schedule,” he continued. “These improvements elevated our productivity during the quarter and contributed to stronger-than-anticipated gross margins.”

“We have the right strategy, which is to target countries with the highest feed-in tariffs for rooftop and building-integrated solar photovoltaic installations.,” Morelli said. “Our opportunity in the U.S. is even greater now that the federal ITC has been extended.”

The agreement with Marcegaglia calls for Uni-Solar to supply individual photovoltaic cells for solar-integrated commercial roofing products that the Italian company is developing based on its industry-leading metal roofing products, which the firm plans to bring to market in 2010. 

“Marcegaglia currently purchases complete solar laminates from USO for incorporation into its existing metal roofing products,” noted Morelli. “With this agreement, we are extending our relationship with Marcegaglia to create a new building-integrated product for the Italian and European markets.”

“Individual Uni-Solar cells can be easily integrated into Marcegaglia’s corrugated insulated panel without any additional dimensional rework,” explained company president/CEO Antonio Marcegaglia. “The goal is to drive costs down and create innovative new products at the same time. “We have obtained very positive feedback from our customers on the Uni-Solar product and through this agreement we will jointly deliver a new customer experience.”

Neither the financial terms of the agreement nor the amount of cells to be supplied were disclosed by the companies.

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