Meyer Burger sees big H1 order increase, widens net loss, announces job cuts

At CHF 222.6 million (around $227.6 million), the Swiss technology manufacturer saw H1 2015 incoming orders soar 42%, up from the CHF 156.8 million recorded in the previous year. At CHF 82 million (H1 2014: CHF 27 million), the PV segment performed particularly strongly.

PV technologies, including heterojunction cell coating equipment, MB PERC technology on the MAiA 2.1 platform, and wafer and module measurement technologies, were singled out as popular among equipment purchasers.

As of June 2015, Meyer Burger’s order backlog was CHF 260.7 million, up from CHF 190.1 million. On the back of the strong order situation, the company is confident it will meet its full year sales targets of around CHF 400 million, up from CHF 326 million, and achieve a break-even EBITDA. "The high amount of incoming orders in the first half of 2015 has … created the base to reach the targets in terms of net sales for 2015," it said in a statement released.

"The improving situation in the PV industry and our project activities with regards to larger orders are stimulating. In addition, the company expects a stable situation to slightly increased order volumes for the small and mid-sized orders and for orders in the Specialised Technologies segment," it added.

Net result

Despite its glowing order results, Meyer Burger nevertheless reported an overall H1 net loss of CFH -93.0 million, down on the CHF -88.0 million lost the previous year. At CHF 124.4 million, net sales were also down, from CHF 129 million.

This was attributed to the appreciation of the Swiss Franc against the Euro, and the fact that "a large number" of machines were awaiting acceptance by customers and will only turn into concrete sales in the coming months. Added to production capacity increases at the company’s site in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, this is expected to lead to "substantially higher" net sales in the second half of the year.

Although it missed company expectations, an EBITDA of CHF -32.7 million was recorded, up from CHF – 55.2 million in H1 2014, while EBIT improved from CHF -88.1 million, to CHF -68.5 million.

Workforce reductions

On the back of restructuring measures at Meyer Burger’s Diamond Materials Tech Inc. in Colorado Springs, the U.S., which aims to focus more on diamond wire solutions for highly specialised applications outside the PV industry, the company will reduce its workforce by a further 46. This, combined with earlier measures, should see it reduce operating costs by around $6 million (roughly CHF 5.8 million).

"With the optimized cost structure which has been adjusted to reflect its business volume, DMT should be able to achieve sustainable profitability," said Meyer Burger. Overall, it added, the company is on track to reduce costs by CHF 30 million for 2015.