Meyer Burger posts 75% annual sales increase in H1 2016

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Switzerland’s Meyer Burger, which manufactures production equipment for the global solar industry, has today posted extremely positive first half (H1) financials for 2016.

The tooling specialist has increased its incoming orders by 20.4% in the space of a year, posting new order volumes worth CHF 267.8 million ($278 million). This increase helped to drive net sales to CHF 217.8 million ($226 million) for H1, a year-over-year increase of 75%, leading to a profound recovery in EBITDA, which hit a profit of CHF 6.2 million after limping home at CHF -32.7 million in H1 2015.

This recovery had been expected following a solid start to 2016 that saw Meyer Burger pick up a series of large tool orders for its PERC and diamond wire technology – a trend that has continued throughout the year so far as the wider solar industry looks to scale up its manufacturing.

Allied to those orders already signed, sealed and delivered, Meyer Burger also boasts an order backlog of CHF 307.4 million ($320 million), which sets the firm up nicely for a solid H2 and a book-to-bill ratio of 1.23.

Larger orders aside, Meyer Burger revealed that its average run-rate of “normal business” averaged CHF 29 million a month, which is a 23% increase on H1 2015 and underlines a steady supply of demand from solar cell manufacturers seeking to renew or upgrade their existing lines.

Augmenting this solid output has been the decision by leading solar firms to choose Meyer Burger’s diamond wire saws, HJT technology, PERC and MAiA tools – these higher-efficiency orders swelled the company’s bottom line in H1 by some CHF 93 million (up from CHF 82 million in H1 2015). Russia’s Hevel is cited in the financials as a particularly good customer, while customers in Asia accounted for 70% of net sales during the period, with European producers at 23% and American customers a mere 7%.

Part of Meyer Burger’s turnaround has been predicated on a reduced staff, with the firm ending H1 with 98 fewer employees as it ended H1 2015, although the company was quick to point out that very few jobs had been lost since the beginning of the year. Other operating expenses increased by a relatively modest 13%, particularly when placed alongside the 75% net sales increased achieved, Meyer Burger said.

All told, Meyer Burger ended H1 with a positive cash flow from operating activities of CHF 15.4 million, up from CHF -28 million in H1 2015, thus ensuring a positive outlook for the remainder of the year. "With the strong incoming orders, the high order backlog and the substantial improvements in the results, Meyer Burger is on track to reach and actually exceed its targets of solid growth in net sales and to achieve breakeven at the EBITDA level for fiscal year 2016," the company concluded.