Bosch affected by PV downturn

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This year, the Bosch Group says it expects global economic growth to slow. As such, it forecasts a sales growth of between three and five percent. It adds that despite a tumultuous year in 2011, sales increased by nine percent, to reach €51.5 billion, while profit before tax hit €2.6 billion.

While positive, the downturn in the global photovoltaics industry, which led to module price drops of up to 50 percent last year, has impacted on its Industrial Technology business which, solar not included, was the company’s strongest business.

Overall, Bosh reports that the Industrial Technology business grew 21 percent to €8 billion in 2011, mainly due to the Drive and Control Technology division and Packaging Technology. "In Solar Energy, by contrast, result developed unsatisfactorily," said the technology and services company in a statement released.

Although it recorded an over 10 percent increase in unit sales of its photovoltaic cells and modules, sales were said to have "significantly" fallen, due to the "dramatic" price drops. "In line with the industry as a whole, Bosch was unable to offset this decline on the cost side," continued the company. As a result, the Industrial Technology business recorded a negative EBIT of €364 million.

Bosch added that it is looking to "significantly reduce" its crystalline costs, and hoping to achieve "sustained profitability and competitiveness". Franz Fehrenbach, chairman of the Bosch board of management continued, "We want to achieve this by means of innovative technologies and optimized manufacturing processes."

Just last week, it was announced that Bosch had officially acquired Conergy’s photovoltaic inverter subsidiary, voltwerk electronics GmbH, following approval from the German anti-trust authorities. In addition to the string and central inverters voltwerk manufactures, Bosch says the company will offer an "innovative" hybrid solution for existing inverters and battery storage in the second half of 2012.

At the start of March, the company additionally began work at its new 150 MW crystalline photovoltaic module manufacturing line in Vénissieux, France. It delayed plans to build a manufacturing facility in Penang, Malaysia, in February however, due to the turbulent solar market conditions.