SolarWorld shipments grow 36% in 2015, charts course for profitable 2016

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Having weathered a stormy few years, SolarWorld appears on track to almost 1.4 GW of PV products in 2016, and approach €1 billion ($1.13 billion) in sales in 2016. The company released its Q4 2015 and FY financial results today, in which it reported shipments of 1.159 GW for 2015, achieving revenues of €736.5 million ($883.3 million).

The ongoing shipment growth is particularly encouraging, with YoY increase coming in at over 33%. Given this trajectory, the forecast shipment expansion by 20% YoY in 2016 appears achievable.

The German company, headed by the controversial and charismatic Frank Asbeck, achieved an EBITDA of €41 million ($46.4 million) and EBIT loss of €4 million (US$4.53 million) in 2015. SolarWorld had targeted a positive EBIT for 2015.

“In 2016, SolarWorld wants to invest further and to improve its performance in the operating business, compared with 2015,” said SolarWorld CFO Philipp Koecke, in a statement. The company expects its EBITA to “increase significantly” this year, and return a positive EBIT result.

Importantly, if SolarWorld can achieve its forecast 20% shipment growth, it will register revenues approaching €1 billion, the first time the company would have done so since 2011, when it registered revenues of €1.045 billion ($1.182 billion).

Geographically, the U.S. is delivering strong revenue growth for SolarWorld. Its U.S. revenues grew from €225 ($255 million) to €394.3 million ($446 million) YoY – an impressive 75% increase. Despite the ongoing weak market, German sales also grew from €97.1 ($110 million) to €133 million ($150.5 million), while Asian shipments slipped from €70.9 ($80 million) to €35.7 million ($40.4 million).

The positive EBITDA result is a reduction on the €107.8 million ($122 million) achieved in 2014, when a group profit of €464.2 million ($525 million)) was also registered. However it must be noted that payments for the taking over of Bosch’s crystalline silicon PV manufacturing was behind the positive 2014 figures. In 2015, SolarWorld reported a group loss of €33.3 million (-$37.7 million).

SolarWorld’s balance-sheet assets declined in 2015 to €868.7 million ($983 million), a decrease of almost 5.1%. It reports equity of €208.9 million ($236.4 million) by end of year, down almost 12.5% YoY.

SolarWorld downplayed the ongoing polysilicon supply lawsuit with troubled U.S. producer Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation, which could threaten the German company’s liquidity if forced to make a payment to Hemlock of $676 million on the basis of take-or-pay contracts the two companies had previously signed.

By the end of the 2015, SolarWorld employed 2,932 people, with the headcount climbing higher than 2011 levels for the first time.

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