Meyer Burger posts positive earnings for first half of 2018

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Meyer Burger’s results for the first half of 2018 show earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of CHF 14.9 million ($15 million), a major turnaround from the CHF 8.8 million loss posted 12 months earlier, and the first positive result from the company since a restructuring process announced in 2016.

The company attributes the improved results to cost reduction measures conducted over the past 18 months, which include ending manufacturing activities at its headquarters in Thun, Switzerland, and the sale of its solar systems division to former Chief Technology Officer, Patrick Hofer-Noser.

Sales for the half-year amounted to CHF 232.3 million, a 9.4% increase on the first half of 2017. Orders however, more than halved to CHF 137.9 million, from CHF 308.5 million a year earlier. Meyer Burger attributed the figure to reluctance among customers for new investment following the May 31 decision by the Chinese authorities to rein in solar.

That policy about-turn led the company to reduce full-year net sales guidance to CHF 400-440 million, from CHF 450-500 million. Like other companies in the solar manufacturing supply chain however, the company has stated long-term confidence in the PV industry.

“In the short-term, the investment sentiment with the company’s PV customers has been dampened by the Chinese government decision to cut subsidies and by the U.S.-China trade conflict,” read a company statement.

It continued, “The long-term positive growth scenario for the PV industry remains intact and further substantial expansion to the end-installed PV capacity is expected for years to come. The positive trend towards high efficiency in cells and modules will also continue, and provides good opportunities for Meyer Burger’s SWCT™ [SmartWire Connection Technology] and HJT [Heterojunction] technologies.”

The announcement also confirmed that manufacturing at the site of its headquarters will cease this year, with production of the company’s SWCT platform to be outsourced to Spanish supplier, Mondragon Assembly, and production of its diamond wire saws moving to Suzhou in China, as part of a partnership with manufacturing group Flex.