Centrotherm bucks the trend to post Q1 profit

While companies such as the Renewable Energy Corporation (REC) and Sunways have responded to first quarter negative trends by citing decreased demand and unexpectedly high inventory levels, Centrotherm shone through by reporting that new orders were up 187.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011 to €224.3 million, compared to €78 million in 2010.

A growth in EBIT from 79.5 percent to €17.7 million allowed Centrotherm to post an overall revenue of €189.3 million for the first quarter of 2011 (versus €115.3 million in the same period for 2010), putting them in a strong position for the remainder of the year.

The company cited "strong new order inflow" as the main reason behind these impressive figures, and stated that this continued its projected growth path. However, with the solar markets overall currently reporting losses, Centrotherm emphasized slower, more sustainable growth in the long term.

Breakdown

A high proportion of total sales came from single equipment items as well as an increased demand for turnkey production lines. The 81.8 percent of revenue brought in by the solar cell and module segment contributed the lion’s share of revenue, having doubled to €154.9 million, compared to €68.2 million in Q1 2010.

EBIT was also up at €19.3 million, representing a 12.4 percent EBIT margin and putting €575.5 million on the order books for this segment at the end of the first quarter, up from the €513.8 million that they recorded at the end of December 2010.

The thin film segment also saw an increase in revenue, up to €5.1 million compared to €3.8 million in 2010. Having invested heavily in process and technology development, the segment saw an operating result of €-3.8 million (previous year: €-8.8 million). However, this was not enough to keep the orders flowing in this area, with an order book position of €34.8 million recorded, down from the €52.9 posted on December 31, 2010.

The silicon and wafer segment proved to be the only loss leading segment overall, with a total revenue of €29.3 million from sales of production technology and systems, compared to €43.3 million in the first quarter of 2010. Segment operating earnings (EBIT) of €2.2 million were down from the 2010 Q1 results of €7 million, with the order book holding relatively steady at €259.5 million as of March 31, having posted €277.1 million in the final quarter of 2010.

The group order book thus totalled €869.8 million on March 31, 2010, recording a 3.1 percent rise from the €843.8 million recorded in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Consolidated net income grew by 84.9 percent to €12.2 million, compared to the €6.6 million recorded in Q1 2010. Earnings share also grew, up by 87.1 percent to €0.58. Overall, Centrotherm execs had reason to beam, with total assets reported at €915.0 million compared to the €805.6 million of December 31, 2010.

Looking ahead

In terms of the projected outlook for the rest of the financial year, Centrotherm is expecting a growth in revenue of €690 million to €710 million, along with an EBIT margin in double figures, in line with the 2010 annual report presented on March 23.

Furthermore, the company has said it will invest seven to ten percent of its annual revenue – between around €690 and 710 million – in research and development activities.

Finally, Centrotherm is intent on achieving growth by maintaining its international diversity. "Our market is the world: we achieve more than 90 percent of our revenue abroad," it said in a statement.

Robert M. Hartung, CEO and management board chairman of Centrotherm continued: "We take an optimistic view of the future because photovoltaics, in combination with other renewable energy sources, makes a key contribution to realizing an exit from the nuclear energy option. With our technology, solar electricity will become significantly cheaper over the next few years."