MEMC: Solar segment growth driven by solar project sales

The GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) revenue was US$600.7 million and the GAAP earnings per share or EPS was $0.05. Non-GAAP recenue was $704.3 million and non-GAAP EPS was $0.08. The solar energy recongized non-GAAP revenue related to 91 MW of solar power systems, interconnected 106 MW and the quarter ended with 73 MW under construction. At the end of the quarter there were cash and cash equivalents of $572.6 million.

The solar energy segment 4Q2012 GAAP revenue increased slightly sequentially but was down year-over-year. Lower solar project and solar wafer sales caused the year-over-year GAAP revenue to declne. Non-GAAP solar energy segment revenue was slightly higher sequentially due to higher megawatts sold and decreased year-over-year because of fewer solar megawatts sold. External sales from MEMC’s upstream solar materials operations were lower sequentially and year-over-year.

4Q2012 GAAP revenue and operating income included $54.4 million of previously deferred revenue related to the sale of the 70 MW Rovigo solar project in the 4Q2010, for which the same amount was recognized in non-GAAP revenue in that quarter. Sequentially higher GAAP revenue was the result of the recognition of the Rovigo deferral and higher solar project sales in the 2012 fourth quarter, partially offset by lower solar module and solar wafer sales. In 4Q2012, SunEdison recognized GAAP revenue from solar projects totaled 52 MW, compared to 48 MW in the 3Q2012 and 102 MW in the 4Q2011.

The increase in year-over-year GAAP operating income resulted primarily from charges relating to the 2011 restructuring in the 4Q2011. Excluding these charges, year-over-year GAAP operating profit was still higher due to deferred revenue recognition from the Rovigo sale in a prior period, a gain related to the acquisition of a TCS plant, and lower operating expenses, partially offset by lower solar wafer sales. The sequential increase in GAAP operating income was due to higher solar project sales, partially offset by lower solar module and solar wafer sales. 3Q2012 GAAP operating income included $58.3 million from a favorable restructuring adjustment relating to a contract settlement with Evonik and $37.1 million related to the termination of a supply contract with Conergy.

Projects

Non-GAAP revenue was recognized from 91 MW of solar project sales in the 4Q2012, compared to 74 MW in 3Q2012 and 109 MW 4Q2011. Of the 91 MW that were recognized under segment non-GAAP revenue in 4Q2012, 62 MW were direct sales and 29 MW were sale-leaseback transactions.

The sale of a 14 MW Totana, Spain solar project was included in the 4Q2012 prject revenue. 4Q2012 non-GAAP revenue included gross additions of $158.0 million and net adjustments of $103.6 million related to direct sale and sale-leaseback transactions ($54.4 million of the reduction is due to the release of the previously mentioned Rovigo solar project deferred revenue).

Solar energy ended 4Q2012 with a pipeline of 2.6 GW, down 0.3 GW compared to the prior quarter and down 0.4 GW from the year ago period. The decline was due to the company’s decision to not renew certain expiring land options in emerging markets. The backlog end of 2012 was 827 MW. Solar projects interconnected in 4Q2012 were 29 projects totalling 106 MW. 76 MW were direct sale projects and 30 MW were sale-leaseback projects. 73 MW of the pipeline projects were under construction end of 2012.

Cash flows

Operating cash flow generated in 4Q2012 was $19.2 million and was driven by both semiconductor materials and solar project sales. Free cash flow was $16.5 million and was largely influenced by the construction and financing of solar energy projects and capital expenditures. Capital expenditures were $38.1 million, and included $11.4 million from the acquisition of a trichlorosilane plant as part of a contract settlement with Evonik. The construction of solar energy systems was $153.7 million in 4Q2012 and includes projects classified as owned and carried fixed assets, a majority of which are expected to become sale-leaseback transactions in which assets are financed with non-recourse debt. MEMC ended the 4Q2012 with cash and cash equivalents of $572.6 million, a decrease of $37.2 million from the prior quarter. The decrease is mainly attributed to project timing and cash payments related to the Evonik TCS plant settlement. Unrestricted cash and unused corporate revolver capacity was $850.7 million at the end of the 4Q2012 compared to $880.3 million at the end of the 3Q2012.

"The past year was a challenging one, in which both of our end markets faced hurdles created by macroeconomic concerns and an intensely competitive environment. I am pleased with our fourth quarter and full year 2012 results, and commend our workforce for their commitment and exemplary performance given difficult conditions in both our business segments last year," commented Ahmad Chatila, MEMC’s Chief Executive Officer.