There were few good signs for solar in Applied Materials’ third quarter 2015 earnings call, despite the copmany earning a record high revenue of US$2.4 billion overall. In addition to sluggish earnings, the company reports that it will eliminate its wafer sawing and solar implant lines.
Applied follows an unconventional financial calendar, with its third quarter ending on July 26. During the quarter its Energy and Environmental Services (EES) business reported an operating loss of $52 million, driven by $34 million in inventory charges and $17 million in asset impariments related to its cost reductions.
The division reported only $39 million in net sales, a fall of almost 50% from the previous quarter and less than half sales a year ago. Worse, only $29 million in new orders were reported during the quarter.
This contrasts with an improvement in orders at other major PV equipment makers, including Meyer Burger and Singulus. Such order intake represents a modest recovery after three years of heavy downturn in the sector.
Applied expects EES sales to recover to $55 million in its fourth quarter. With such relatively low sales and the shedding of product lines, Applied’s presence in the solar industry is barely recognizable from the huge volumes of equipment it was selling in 2010 and 2011.
In April of this year, Applied announced that it was cancelling its merger with Tokyo Electron, following a ruling by the U.S. Department of Justice which cited insufficient remedies for lost competition.