Sales and capacity doubled at SMA Solar in 2010: expects flat market demand in 2011

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In providing full-year financial results, solar inverter market leader SMA Solar Technology, estimated global PV installations in 2010 reached between 17GW – 20GW, while projecting installations would remain in that range in 2011. With sales reported at €1.9 billion for last year, SMA Solar guided 2011 sales of between €1.5 and €1.9 billion. EBIT margin was expected to decline to between 21% and 25%, down from 26.9% in 2010, due to pricing pressure.

The company noted that 2010 PV installations had been curtailed due to the shortages in solar inverters. Changes in key markets' feed-in tariffs and uncertainty over market developments in countries such as Italy and France were reason given for the static growth forecast. Management also noted that it couldn’t rule out a market decline in 2011 and highlighted higher stock levels at its customers in the first quarter of 2011.

SMA Solar had doubled capacity to meet demand in 2010, reaching inverter output sold of 7.4GW, up from 3.4GW in 2009. Production capacity doubled in Germany, while new capacity was established in USA and Canada. Total production capacity reached 11GW in 2010, up from 5GW in 2009.

The company claimed that its global market share had reached between 39% and 45%, compared to 40% share claimed in the previous year. The company noted that medium power solutions generated more than 80% of group sales in 2010. International sales contributed more than €860 million in 2010.

SMA Solar management noted that they had already seen a regional shift in demand in the early part of this year, indicating that overseas demand reached 60%, while the company would be expanding operations in Japan and Thailand to meet demand. In 2010, almost 45% of sales were generated outside of Germany, compared to 38.4% in the previous year.

The company emphasised that it would retain its successful business strategy this year of dedicating resources to R&D and target of introducing five to six new products in the year. Spending on R&D in 2010 was €83 million, employing 600 engineers. However the company plans to spend €100 million on R&D in 2011. Investments in buildings and machinery would be in the range of €150 and €200 million.

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