Poor demand for silver paste, primarily used in solar cell production, was highlighted by Ferro management as a key reason for lower quarterly earnings at Ferro Corporation. The company reported net sales of US$466 million for the three-month period ended March 31, 2012, compared with net sales of US$573 million in the first quarter of 2011.
“Ferro generated income and positive earnings in the 2012 first quarter and sales increased in all businesses except electronic materials compared with the first quarter of 2011. While we continued to experience weak demand for conductive pastes and powders in our electronic materials business, we recorded sequential sales and income improvement in our performance coatings, colour and glass performance materials, polymer additives and specialty plastics businesses, compared with the fourth quarter of 2011,” said chairman, president and chief executive officer, James Kirsch. “We will continue to carefully manage costs, expenses and cash, given the existing uncertainties regarding the timing and strength of a recovery of solar paste demand in the electronic materials business.”
Ferro reported gross profit for the quarter of US$88 million, down from US$120 million, during the first quarter of 2011.
The company said that sales of electronic materials products were expected to be lower in 2012 compared with 2011, noting that it had limited visibility regarding the strength and timing of a recovery in demand for solar pastes. Ferro also noted that it wasn’t sure of the pace of adoption by customers of its range of new solar paste products launched last year.