Manz grows revenue despite weak solar equipment orders

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The PV equipment supply business remains a difficult one, as demonstrated by Manz’s Q3 2014 results. While receiving strong business in its display business that supplies smartphone and tablet producers, Manz’s solar segments continues to weigh heavily on its books. The display business has resulted in €179.9 million ($224.3 million) in orders in the first nine months of 2014 (9M 2014), while its solar business generated €9.3 million ($11.6 million) of orders over the same period. The weak solar equipment performance is showing signs of improvement, however, registering an improvement on the €7.4 million ($9.2 million) reaped in 9M 2013.

Manz’s lithium-ion battery equipment supply segment is also picking up, with €12.2 million ($15.2 million) coming in during 9M 2014 – up from €7.4 million ($9.2 million) the previous year. Total 9M 2014 revenues came in at €250.9 million ($312.9 million), up 18% on 2013 and representing a record result for the German firm.

“Interest in our solutions from the display sector remains high,” said company founder and CEO Dieter Manz. “The solar industry is in an upswing – albeit at the same low level. The persistently high growth in the retail [PV] market will lead to more investments in production systems and thereby to strong increasing revenue.” Manz added that the first “large orders of production systems for the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries for consumer electronics,” are coming in. “In view of all this, I am convinced of Manz AG's medium and long-term company success," said Dieter Manz.

Another way in which its solar segment is weighing heavily on Manz’s bottom line is the discontinuation of a €4.5 million ($5.6 million) payment it was receiving from Würth, as a part of Manz’s takeover of the former Würth Solar’s CIGS manufacturing operations in Schwäbisch Hall, in Germany’s south west. Manz now operates the Schwäbisch Hall facility as its “Innovation Line,” where it puts its technological improvements into scale production.

Manz remains upbeat as to the prospect of selling the first of its CIGSfab turnkey production line. In its Q3 2014 statement, the company indicates that a potential sale may be on the cards: “A short-term possible sale of a CIGSfab is not taken into account herein and offers additional upside potential [to its FY revenue guidance of between €280 and €300 million ($349.2 million and $435.4 million].”

Including the €4.5 million ($5.6 million) discontinued payment from Würth and the “unrestricted continuation of research operations in all areas of business,” Manz has posted an €800 million ($998 million) consolidated net loss for 9M 2014, compared to a €400 million profit the previous year.

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