Manz posts record revenues despite sector contraction


German plant manufacturer Manz AG today published its Annual Report 2013, which reveals that the company was able to achieve record revenues of €266.2 million in the 2013 financial year, despite a continuing decline in PV business.

Compared to 2012, last year's performance represents a 44.6% revenue increase. At the same time, profitability also improved. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounted to €27 million (compared to negative €10.8 million the previous year), while the EBITDA margin amounted to approximately 10%. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in 2013 amounted to €3.1 million, a shart upturn in fortunes following 2012's negative €30.7 million.

In terms of divisions, the display segment accounted for the largest share of revenues in 2013, at €172.5 million (2012: €111.3 million). This represents a growth of 55.1% on the previous year. With the sale of production equipment for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, Manz achieved a turnover of €9.1 million.

The Solar segment accounted for €10.4 million (2012: €16.4 million). This corresponds to a share of only 3.9%. For the fiscal year 2008, the revenue share for the PV division of the plant manufacturer was around 60%. The PCB/OEM reporting segment was responsible for relevant revenue contributions of €56.4 million (previous year: €25.9 million). This positive development reflects the increased OEM production of equipment for the semiconductor industry using free capacity at the company's site in Slovakia due to the lack of solar orders.

A rosy future

CEO Dieter Manz told pv magazine that he is optimistic for 2014. For the current fiscal year he expects "strong revenue growth with a significant improvement in earnings before interest and taxes." In the past few months orders worth around €95 million have already been received in the display division, where demand for smartphones and tablets remains strong, and positive momentum is forecease for flat-panel displays. Manz’s battery division will also strengthen the company by means of an acquisition.

While development in the previous year was behind expectations due to the lack of demand on the e-mobility market, Manz expects more orders from the premium consumer electronics sector. The company also sees growth potential in the solar division for 2014, "owing to increasing demand on solar modules on the retail market," said the CEO.

However, Dieter Manz underlined that while he continues to believe in PV, in the short term he does not expect any "great leaps forward because at the moment hardly anybody is really making money."

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In order to prevent any further collapse of the domestic PV market and to keep the PV industry in Germany, Manz calls for an active industry policy. "Without political will, there will be no more production in Germany," he said.

It is necessary to introduce, among other things, regulations for local content in tenders and funding measures, he continued. "Without a strong domestic solar market, there is also no domestic PV industry.

"Research alone is not enough. If the manufacturers leave, so do the machine builders and, consequently, the research institutes." Enhanced cooperation within the industry is, believes Manz, completely necessary.

Above all, Manz sees growth potential for the plant manufacturer's PV business in the turnkey CIGS production lines. He stated that they are in talks with several interested parties in new markets such as Turkey, the MENA region, South Africa and China. One of the advantages of CIGS technology, according to Manz, is that factories with a high proportion of local content could be constructed more cost-effectively than in the crystalline sector.

A detailed interview with Dieter Manz will feature in the upcoming May issue of pv magazine.

Article translated by Kevin Campbell.

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