Berlin, 23. February 2010 – SOLON SE, Berlin, Germany today presented its preliminary figures for fiscal year 2009. The past fiscal year was determined by stagnation in global demand for solar technology, which was allocated with extreme fluctuations over the year. While the first three quarters remained significantly behind the previous year, the fourth quarter experienced a surge in year-end business. The increase was driven primarily by strong demand in the German market, which was limited almost entirely to the end customer market.
By contrast, the solar power plant business – which in 2007 and 2008 had made a significant contribution to the strong growth of the solar industry – drastically declined in fiscal 2009 as a consequence of the global financial crisis, which brought financing for major solar projects to a near standstill.
The market trend described above was also reflected in the performance of the SOLON Group and its individual segments in fiscal year 2009. The Components segment – manufacture of standard solar modules and sale to wholesalers and solar installers – performed solidly, reaching the unit sales level of the previous year. The System Technology segment, however – manufacture of solar power plant systems and planning and construction of turnkey, large-scale power plants all over the world – fell behind expectations. Although a number of major contracts were acquired in the second half, these will not affect revenue or earnings until 2010 due to the necessary lead time.
According to preliminary calculations, Group sales reached EUR 354 million, a drop of 57% compared to the extremely strong prior year (2008: EUR 815 million). Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) dropped to a loss of EUR195 million (2008: positive EBIT of EUR 58 million). The net loss after minority interests amounted to EUR 276 million (2008: net income of EUR 33 million). Earnings per share fell to a loss of EUR 22.00 (2008: positive EPS of EUR 2.61). EBIT and net income were massively impacted by extraordinary expenses, particularly impairment losses on financial assets and assets of subsidiaries amounting to EUR 122 million as well as devaluation on inventory of EUR 60 million due to a 30-percent decline in unit sales prices in fiscal 2009.
A net cash inflow of approximately EUR 90 million was generated in fiscal year 2009. Net debt was reduced slightly to EUR 345 million as of the reporting date (2008: EUR 379 million). The negotiations with lenders on restructuring medium-term Group financing are still underway, but are expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2010.
The restructuring program initiated in fiscal 2009, which includes strategic measures along with projects to improve the Company’s cost structure, has already shown initial successes, as can be seen in the improved liquidity situation, for instance.
The extreme differences in performance of the two operating segments Components and System Technology resulted in a corresponding shift in their share of total sales. In 2009, the Components segment accounted for 73% of Group sales (2008: 45%), while the System Technology segment fell back to 27% (2008: 55%). Some 52% of Group sales were generated in Germany in 2009. All in all, photovoltaic installations with a total output of 132 MW were manufactured in fiscal 2009, a decline of 25 percent on the prior year (2008: 176 MW).
The SOLON Group maintains five production sites in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States. The number of employees at all Group locations amounted to 899 at year end.
For the current fiscal year, the Management Board expects global demand for solar technology to pick up considerably, with the decrease in sales prices slowing compared to 2009. The goal is to return to sales growth in the double-digit percentage range and to break even in terms of operating earnings.
Source: SOLON SE