Bitterfeld-Wolfen, 12. May 2011, Q-Cells SE (QCE; ISIN DE0005558662) has recorded a significant drop in sales compared to the same period last year as a result of weak market demand in the first quarter of 2011. Sales of EUR 125.1 million were approximately 46 percent below the value for the first quarter of 2010 (EUR 232.3 million), which however included the sale of the utility-scale Strasskirchen project (EUR 72.5 million) and the electricity trading company QCCS (EUR 20 million) that was sold at the end of 2010. The product business generated sales of EUR 98.7 million in the first quarter of 2011. The seasonal weakness of the first quarter was aggravated by regulatory uncertainty in the important solar markets of France and Italy.
Falling selling prices in the first quarter along with high prices for solar wafers and silver in combination with weak demand have negatively impacted the earnings position of the Company accordingly. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) totalled EUR 15.3 million, slightly below the prior year value of EUR 18.8 million. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) at EUR -10.6 million for the first quarter of 2011 also came in slightly below the prior year period (EUR -9.3 million). The net loss for the period was EUR -41.1 million (Q1 2010: EUR -46.4 million).
The production of solar cells and thin film modules totalled 313 MWp in the first quarter of 2011. Of the 284 MWp solar cells, 163 MWp were produced in the Q-Cells plant in Malaysia. The production of thin film solar modules (Q.SMART at the subsidiary Solibro) amounted to 29 MWp (+74% compared to Q1 2010). Net working capital increased from EUR 339.8 million to EUR 494.2 million in the first quarter of 2011.
As the first quarter of 2011 developed less favourably than in the previous year and the demand situation for the second quarter as well as the second half of 2011 is fraught with great unpredictability, a forecast for 2011 carries considerable uncertainties. The company's target to achieve the same level of revenues as in the previous year can be reached, provided that demand increases in the second half of 2011 and production capacities are utilised accordingly. Due to the high degree of uncertainty about the future development of purchase and sales prices, Q-Cells is presently unable to provide a forecast for operating income in the current year. With an increase in demand in the second half of 2011, a stabilisation of sales prices, falling prices for wafers and silver and the realisation of planned projects in the systems business, a positive operating income for the full year is to be expected.
Source: Q-Cells SE