SMA posts loss increase as sales drop in first quarter

SMA Solar Technology posted a net loss of €16.7 million in the first quarter of 2014, up from a €5.8 million loss in the same period a year ago.

The German inverter manufacturer said low sales and a change in its product mix contributed to the higher losses. First quarter sales fell 20% to €176.3 million, in line with earlier forecasts.

SMA attributed the lower sales to a decline in project business. "The reasons for this included uncertainty in Europe due to the Ukraine crisis, project delays in North America and monetary turmoil in India,” the company said.

In what SMA described as “a highly competitive environment,” the company’s inverter sales reached 1 GW in the first three months of 2014, down from 1.2 GW in the same period last year.

SMA pointed out that PV system sales had increased around the world, with 9 GW of PV power installed globally in the first quarter, with America and Asia providing growth impetus while the negative trend continued in Europe.

SMA maintained the international share of its sales stable at 68% compared to 67.5% in the first quarter of 2013, which it said underscored its “outstanding international position.”

The company added that it remained financially sound with a net liquidity of €314 million and an equity ratio of 57.4%.

With gross sales of €57.2 million (compared to €71.3 million in the first quarter of last year), Germany remained the company’s strongest market overall despite a steep decline due to the persisting debate over the reform of the country’s Renewable Energy Sources Act. North America, the United Kingdom and Australia also ranked as significant markets for the company.

"Due to the ongoing political discussion in Germany and project delays abroad, SMA recorded a high loss in the first quarter of 2014," said SMA CEO Pierre-Pascal Urbon. "We are not satisfied with the sales and earnings. We will continue to focus our strategy on developing new technological approaches, entering new markets and systematically reducing costs."

Urbon added that the company would present its first new next generation products at upcoming trade fairs in Germany and China.

SMA’s managing board confirmed the company’s previously published sales and earnings forecast for the entire year, which anticipates sales of €1 billion to €1.3 billion and, in the best-case scenario, an operating result of up to €20 million.

The forecast is based on the assumption of "a stable regulatory environment, particularly in Europe."