Meyer Burger: new orders, big losses

Swiss solar production equipment company Meyer Burger has attempted to sugar the pill of next week’s first half 2013 figures by pointing to green shoots of recovery in the global industry.

The Thun-based company has announced supply contracts to two unnamed Asian manufacturers worth a total CHF22 million (US$23.7 million), deals which a company press release described as "the first major contractual volume the company has signed since the crisis in the solar market began in the second half of 2011."

The group will deliver water-based diamond wire saws to a ‘leading Asian wafer manufacturer’ by the end of next month and will supply solar production equipment to a module supplier which aims to begin production with the new manufacturing lines by the end of this month. The production equipment supplied by Meyer Burger will include lamination, cell connection, handling and performance testing as well as customer training and support services.

Things will get better

As a result of the new orders, the company is predicting an upturn in orders in the ‘second half of 2103’ ie now.

That it has been a long wait for significant new business is reflected in the selected first half figures the company released yesterday which are the result, it says, of ‘low demand for production systems and equipment.’

Net sales of around CHF90.4 million led to an EBITDA loss of CHF58.6 million and an EBIT loss of CHF98.8 million ameliorated by previous losses to a net loss of CHF 81.9 million.

In a classic corporate euphemism, the Meyer Burger statement added the company’s ‘optimization and consolidation programs… had been fully implemented as planned’ with the result operating expenses have come down CHF54.7 million from the last reporting period – with CHF30.1 million of those savings coming from reduced personnel costs.

The full first half figures are due to be announced next Thursday (August 15).