GT looks to the future in its solar, polysilicon businesses


GT Advanced Technologies has released results for the second quarter of 2014, which show ongoing slowness in the PV equipment industry. The company reported only $11 million in PV revenue and $2.8 million in Polysilicon revenue, the lowest combined level in over three years.

GT says that these limited revenues represent success at selling off its DSS inventory. And while orders were even lower, thanks to its Sapphire business the company brought in $58.0 million in total second quarter revenue, a 66% fall from a year ago but more than double first quarter revenues.

Operating loss came in at $84.4 million, however much of this can be attributed to heavy investments in its factory in Arizona to produce products for Apple. GT offered a non-GAAP operating loss figure of $22.3 million.

GT expects a strong recovery during the second half of 2014, forecasting $600-700 million in 2014 revenues, despite bringing in only $80.5 million in the first half of the year. While the company predicts that more than 80% of annual revenues will come from its Sapphire business, even these levels would represent a modest recovery in its PV and polysilicon businesses.

For its solar business, GT is banking heavily on its Merlin interconnection technology, and during the second quarter achieved third-party IEC certification for the solution. “The response from partners and potential customers has been strong,” notes GT CEO Tom Gutierrez.

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While GT plans for commercial roll-out of Merlin in 2015, the company expects to begin realizing limited amounts of revenue from the technology during the third quarter of 2014, and expects Merlin to be a “significant contributor to earnings in 2015”.

With its Hyperion technology, GT has exfoliated a 200 millimeter, 50 micron-thick silicon film. While the company has previously said that it is not currently pursuing any solar applications for Hyperion, Gutierrez notes that this is “an ideal thickness for many solar and semiconductor operations”.

As a result of these and other technologies, GT expects its revenue mix across divisions to change in coming years. “When you look at Hyperion and Merlin, those two parts of the business could be very substantial,” predicts Gutierrez.

GT also holds $292 million in backlog in its Polysilicon division. While the company expects a HiCz order by the end of 2014, GT says to look to 2015 for greater impacts. “I would not expect significant revenues in HiCz in 2014,” says Gutierrez. “I would expect that the orders would come and revenue recognized in 2015.”

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