SolarWorld reports €144 million loss on increased shipments

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Continued claims of solar modules being dumped on the market below manufacturing cost were cited as key reason why SolarWorld reported a loss of €143.8 million for the first-half of 2012. The PV manufacturer posted sales of €340.1 million, compared to €533.6 million in the first-half of 2011. Continued price erosion meant the company made an inventory impairment charge of €33.5 million as well as an €80 million impairment on advance payments.

Changes in regional demand due to feed-in tariff revisions provided inconsistent sales in key markets quarter-on-quarter. Noting pull-forward effects in the German market during the first-quarter, SolarWorld said that demand in Germany softened in the second quarter. The Italian market was said to have been good, but not good enough to offset demand softness in Germany in the second quarter.

Demand from outside Germany contributed 60% of shipments in the first-half of the year, yet was down from 69.1% in the same period a year ago.

SolarWorld said that shipments of modules and kits grew to 316MW, up from 269MW in the first half of 2011.

“We have to fight price dumping with technological innovations,” noted Frank Asbeck, CEO, SolarWorld AG. “The group will invest an additional €50 million, primarily in new products specifically for highly efficient self-consumption of solar power as well as in bringing research results and patented innovations to German and American cell production. These new processes will improve the performance of solar modules while decreasing material consumption and thus production costs.”

The company noted that its capital spending in the first-half of the year was €25.1 million. SolarWorld invested €11.7 million in its cell and module manufacturing operations in Hillsboro and  €11.9 million at its wafer and module manufacturing operations in Freiberg. A total of €1.5 million of CapEx was allocated to its R&D facility in Freiberg.

However, SolarWorld said that it would not make a profit in 2012, due to claims of ‘illegal trade practices,’ primarily aimed at Chinese PV module manufacturers. 

Asbeck had said in a statement in July that he was waiving his salary, around €500,000 last year until the company returns to profitability. Asbeck also said that he would forgo dividends during that time.

SolarWorld had reported sales of €1,066 million in 2011, down from €1,322 million in 2010. Shipments of wafers and modules reached 795MW last, down from 819MW in 2010.

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