In the past fiscal year, SMA Solar Technology AG achieved its best shipment performance ever with around 8.5 GW, an increase of 0.3 GW compared to 2016. However, the company’s sales for 2017 totaled €891 million, down from €947 million a year earlier.
The reason for the decline in sales was falling demand in the U.S. market for large-scale solar plants, which was not offset by the positive development in the Asian and European markets.
SMA CEO, Pierre-Pascal Urbon, said the sudden decline in U.S. demand was due to a new regulatory environment. The debate over the introduction of import duties for PV products, which had arisen in the second half of 2017, also had a negative impact on last year’s business. The SMA Annual Report shows that sales in the Americas region fell by 52% last year to €212.4 million.
EBIDTA also fell year-on-year, from €141.5 million to €97.3 million, while EBITDA margin was 10.9% (2016: 14.9%).
Despite this decline, Urbon said he is satisfied with the operating result as it was at the upper end of its own forecast, which was raised in August. All the segments were profitable in the past fiscal year, he further explained.
According to SMA, 2017’s net profit of €30.1 million was approximately at the level of 2016, which was €29.6 million.
Meanwhile, operating cash flow dropped from €147.5 million in 2016 to €116.8 million last year. At the same time, net liquidity rose year-on year from €362 million to €449.7 million, while the equity ratio stood at 50.3% (December 31, 2016: 48.3%).
Additionally, the company secured a long-term credit line of €100 million last year. In view of the “financial stability and positive business outlook”, the Management Board and Supervisory Board announced a dividend of €0.35 per share. This would correspond to a payout ratio of 40% in relation to the consolidated result.
For the first quarter of 2018, the SMA Executive Board expects sales of around €180 million, compared to €173.2 million in the first quarter of 2017. EBITDA is expected to reach €18 million, compared to €15.9 million in the previous year.
At the beginning of the new financial year, SMA has an order backlog of more than €650 million. For the full year 2018, the SMA Managing Board expects sales to be between €900 and €1,000 million, and an EBITDA in the range of €90 million to € 110 million.