PV industry manufacturing overcapacity and a flood of used PV equipment on the market, due to bankruptcies and firms exiting the sector were behind Spire Corporation reporting a 70% decline in PV related sales in 2012.
The specialist equipment supplier posted total 2012 revenue of US$22.1 million, down 62% from US$58.7 million in 2011. However, PV sales decreased 70% year-on-year to only US$15.3 million, compared to US$51.0 million in 2011.
Spire noted in its 2012 annual report that the delivery of solar equipment to First Solar accounted for 12% of total net sales and revenues.
Roger G. Little, chairman and CEO of Spire Corporation, said: “Although we are seeing growth in PV systems on a global basis, the continued oversupply of PV modules as it relates to market demand has resulted in a reduced demand for PV manufacturing equipment which is expected to continue until the module supply/demand imbalance is resolved. There is virtually no expansion of current module manufacturers. In addition, many module manufacturers have gone out of business resulting in a flood of used equipment on the market.”
The company reported a net loss of US$1.9 million in 2012, though the majority of losses (US$1.2 million) were accumulated in the fourth quarter of 2012, when sales were US$3.8 million, a decrease of 81% from US$18.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The company said that it was seeking opportunities to gain revenue in other, unspecified solar markets, but was also looking at potential strategic alternative business activities to mitigate the chronically weak business environment in the PV industry.
Spire reported 2012 unrestricted cash and cash equivalents of US$3.0 million compared to US$4.8 million as of December 31, 2011. Its independent accounting firm raised doubts about the company being a ‘going concern’ within its SEC annual report filing.
However, management noted that they expected the PV equipment market to start a recovery due to a new capacity buy cycle expected to begin in late 2013 or the first half of 2014.
The company did not organise an investor’s conference call to discuss financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2012.