Meyer Burger increases sales, files half-year loss

The signs of an equipment supply recovery are clearly evident in Meyer Burger’s half-year financials, which were released today. Book-to-bill ratio is positive, orders have increased by 90% YOY and sales also are up – however this has not pulled the company out of negative earnings territory. Net losses for the six months rose 9% from CHF 80.6 million ($86 million) the previous year to CHF 88 million ($94 million).

Meyer Burger reports net sales of CHF 129 million ($142 million), an increase on CHF 90.4 million ($99.5 million) YOY. Asia remained the major market for the firm, accounting for 51% of sales, Europe 28% and the U.S. 21%. Sales to the Middle East and Africa fell to zero, down from 7% in H1 2013.

The company expects H2 2014 to see an increase in sales as equipment that has been shipped and received is realized as income and “several other project activities and deliveries” progress. pv magazine understands that some ongoing supply projects that Meyer Burger has been working on have been disrupted by political instability or policy changes.

In terms of workforce, strong demand for Meyer Burger’s diamond wire wafer cutting material has seen it expand its workforce at it Colorado Springs site, in the U.S. However on the flip side, a further 100 positions at one its Roth & Rau division in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany, will go. The move, announced in May, is expected to lead to a reduction in annual personnel expenses at the Hohenstein-Ernstthal production center of some CHF 5.5 million ($6 million) as of 2015.

Meyer Burger employs 1,951 people on a full time basis, a YOY increase of around 10%.

Looking to cash flow, Meyer Burger saw a reduction of CHF 98.7 million ($109 million) in H1 2014, although excluding “preparative investments,” the company reports real “cash burn” of CHF 58.3 million ($64.2 million). This is a reduction from CHF 74.6 million ($82 million) YOY. The Swiss firm continued to increase its share of ownership of subsidiary Roth & Rau, increasing its stake by CHF 3.8 million ($4.2 million) to reach 95.11%.

Looking forward Meyer Burger reports that the PV equipment supply environment is improving, however it remains “cautious.” Demand from new markets is occurring, as a part of the industry’s “structural change,” but delivery of integrated production lines to these markets is pursuant on stable policy and political environments – which are often lacking.

For FY 2014, Meyer Burger expects “substantial improvements in incoming orders and net sales compared to the previous year.” It also expects to see operating expenses reduced by CHF 10 million ($11 million), as of 2015.

On the technology front, Meyer Burger reports that it posted orders for new products including heterojunction equipment, diamond wire and sawing materials and equipment, SmartWire Connection technology and measurement equipment for high efficiency cells.