SMA Solar inverter sales plummet during quarter; sees demand picking up, expects better second half

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Although SMA Solar's first-quarter 2011 sales exceeded its guidance, the amount still fell below its Q1 and Q4 2010 figures. After selling 1.019GW of inverters during the period, the market leader’s revenues reached €255.9 million, compared with the previous year Q1's €339.3 million for the same quarter. Customers' continued high inventory levels, changes in incentive programs of important European solar markets, and the expectation of further falling module prices were attributed as reasons for a decline in demand for its products.

While sales dropped to almost half of those reported in Q4 2010, SMA closed Q1 with earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of €13.7 million (a margin of 5.4%), compared to €92.4 million in Q1 2010. Consolidated net profit was €10.3 million, compared to Q1 2010’s €66.6 million.

The German-based company cited a Q1 export ratio of 66.4%, with the most important foreign markets including Italy, North America, Australia, and France. Noting that demand rose slightly at the beginning of the second quarter, SMA sees a significant boost in sales from the foreign markets.

“We almost doubled our export ratio compared to the quarter of the previous year. This underlines both our strong international presence with 17 foreign companies on four continents and the dynamic developments in several particularly promising photovoltaics markets,” said CEO Gunther Cramer.

“The overwhelming response to the Sunny Tripower again provides proof of the decisive technological edge of SMA. We will expand our technological edge further in 2011 with a development budget of € 100 million,” he added.

The managing board of SMA expects the second half of 2011 will see a distinctly more dynamic development than the first six months and predicts sales of between €1.5 billion and €1.9 billion for the year, with a profit margin between 21% and 25%.

IMS Research reported that SMA may have been the biggest market-share loser in the inverter sector in 2010, slipping 5% despite almost doubling its sales.

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