SAG Solarstrom upbeat for 2013 despite sales slowdown in Q3

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German project developer SAG Solarstrom has insisted it is weathering continued difficulties in Europe's PV market despite posting a €6.9 million (US$9.3 million) loss for the first nine months of the year.

The company said it was continuing to make up for a 50% slump in the European market through ongoing investment in international expansion and was confident of achieving a positive operating result for the full year.

The company said it was continuing to focus on the UK as a key market, while also developing projects in Africa, Turkey and Latin America. It said the cost of investing in these new markets had impacted on its overall balance sheet.

Overall Solarstrom said its sales for the first three quarters of the year had reached €74.5 million (US$100.8 million), down from €90.1 million (US$121.8 million) over the same period last year.

But with sales having already reached €62.9 million (US$85 million) in the first half of this year, the company has added only €11.6 million (US$15.7 million) in further sales since then, underlining a difficult third quarter.

“The European market has, as expected, collapsed by more than 50%, due to regulatory changes and the introduction of punitive tariffs and minimum import prices on Chinese module imports,” said chief executive Karl Kuhlmann.

“We therefore had to significantly accelerate our international expansion, in order to develop future growth markets for our group. This has left its mark on our results and our balance sheet. However, we are convinced that our aggressive expansion strategy has laid crucial foundations for profiting from market growth at the end of the consolidation phase.”

The company’s difficulties in the last quarter appear to partially originate in the UK, which accounted for 63.1% of its total sales in the first three quarters of the year; Solarstrom revealed that it had had to delay UK projects planned for the third quarter of this year due to the “unclear” situation created by the EU-China solar trade dispute.

The company has also had to discontinue its ‘Partner Sales’ business line, which organises the sale of solar equipment throughout Germany. It said that sales through this area had fallen from €18.5 million (US$25 million) in the first three quarters of last year to just €1.2 million (US$1.6 million) over the same period this year, prompting the decision to discontinue.

But, pointing to last year’s results, Solarstrom said it was confident of reaching the forecast 117MW of installations across its various markets by the end of the year.

“We implemented a large part of our installation volume in Q4 last year, which is why we are confirming our forecast, particularly in view of our current project pipeline and the advanced project situation,” said Kuhlmann. 

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