Meyer Burger cites beginning of PV equipment recovery as sales increase

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Switzerland’s Meyer Burger has confirmed the beginnings of a recovery for PV equipment manufacturers after posting encouraging first-half results.

Although the company said it continued to be “cautious” about the market for PV equipment, it cited the beginnings of a “certain recovery” following the hammering taken by equipment suppliers in the recent industry downturn.

These were reflected in results that showed orders up 90% on the same period last year and a book-to-bill ratio up to 1.21 from 0.9 last year.

First-half net sales of CHF129 million (US$141.8 million) were up 43% on the CHF90.4 million (US$99.4 million) made in the same period last year. Asia accounted for 51% of net sales, up from 39% last year, Europe 28%, down from 35% last year, and America 21%, up from 19% last year. Sales to the Middle East and Africa were down from 7% to zero this year.

However, these positive results were not enough to make much of an impact on Meyer Burger’s losses. First-half EBITDA fell only 8% from CHF59.9 million (US$65.8 million) last year to CHF55.2 million (US$60.7 million) this year.

Meyer Burger said this limited progress in addressing losses was a consequence of factors such as “preparatory” investment, for example in new test lines.

In terms of orders, the company said the volume of small and mid-sized orders had increased noticeably compared to the first half of 2013 by 57%.

‘Large’ orders of CHF27 million (US$29.7 million) constituted two contracts with leading wafer and module manufacturers in Asia.

Looking ahead, Meyer Burger said it foresaw increased interest in its integrated product lines from new markets. But the political and financial factors influencing such orders made it difficult to predict when they would be made, the company added. 

But with cell and module manufacturers in the main now looking to carry out capacity expansions, Meyer Burger said orders across all its product range were now increasing and that it expected to achieve “substantial improvements” this year in both orders and sales compared to 2013.

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