Uptick in interest but no orders from solar manufacturers for BTU International

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PV equipment supplier, BTU International, has reported third quarter net sales of US$12.0 million, down 15.7% compared to US$14.2 million in the preceding quarter as little sales activity was generated from the PV sector.

Management noted that despite downstream PV demand growth, customers had yet to place orders as utilisation rates continued to increase, echoing reports that manufacturers across the supply chain are retaining tight control of capital spending and focusing on returning to profitability than adding capacity and gaining market share.

Paul J. van der Wansem, BTU chairman and CEO, said: “Our electronics business continued to be the key contributor for our revenues during the quarter and nine month period. Growth in the Asia Pacific markets has moderated in the past quarter compared to historical levels. In solar, we are encouraged by early signs of interest by customers about improving factory efficiencies and potentially increasing capacities once we are beyond the current imbalance in supply versus demand.”

The company also reported higher than expected losses of US$5.1 million in the third quarter of 2013 due to a settlement of a legal dispute with a customer over equipment deliveries back in 2006, and the recording of a full valuation allowance against the deferred tax assets of the company's China subsidiary.

“On the technology side, we are pleased with the engagement of the Fraunhofer Institute, Europe's largest application-oriented research organisation located in Germany, involving process development using our in-line diffusion concepts as part of manufacturing technology for existing and advanced cell structures,” added van der Wansem.

BTU International said that it expected revenue in the fourth quarter in the US$13.5 million to US$14.5 million range but added that gross margins would continue to be affected by under absorption factory utilisation, due to the absence of solar customer demand.

“With the increase in customer interest in production efficiencies, we see a potential for solar orders later in the year [2014],” concluded van der Wansem.

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