Wacker posts Q4 2015 polysilicon lows, begins production at US facility

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German polysilicon producer Wacker Chemie has published fourth quarter and annual 2015 financials that reveal how tumbling polysilicon prices suppressed sales revenue in the final quarter of last year.

Although total polysilicon sales for 2015 reached €1.06 billion – up from €1.04 billion in 2014 – the fourth and final quarter saw a drop of around 8% compared to Q4 2014, with just €240 million raised in polysilicon revenue (Q4 2014: €271.4 million).

The growth of the solar industry has served to slash global polysilicon prices, which stood at $400 per kilogram in 2008 but now cost $13/kg as producers – Wacker Chemie among them – have swamped the market. The German firm was the second-largest producer of polysilicon, after China’s GCL-Poly, in 2015.

The company, which also makes chemical products from methanol, ethylene and rock salt, did, however, see its overall sales rise above €5 billion for the first time ever in 2015, growing 10% year-on-year to reach €5.3 billion.

This upturn was not enough to prop up Wacker’s share value though, which plunged 5.3% to hit its lowest level for two-and-a-half years.

The start-up costs of Wacker Chemie’s polysilicon plant in Charleston, U.S. served to “dampen” Wacker Polysilicon’s EBITDA figures, which came in at just €70 million for Q4 2015, or 21% below the fourth quarter in 2014.

Nevertheless, production at the U.S. facility has now begun, which the company hopes will soon begin paying back the €835 million in capital expenditure outlay recorded for 2015.