Meyer Burger seals $100 million HJT order, expects to hit break-even in first half

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Meyer Burger has signed a ‘framework contract’ with an unnamed cell manufacturer which it expects will be worth CHF100 million ($101 million).

According to the Swiss company, the order is for its heterojunction core equipment and has been placed by a cell manufacturing startup in North America founded by solar industry veterans. The announcement noted, however, the contract volume is subject to the purchaser closing a financing round.

Meyer Burger said it expects to receive a contractual down payment in the fourth quarter, when it will recognize the order intake.

The equipment manufacturer published its preliminary results for the first half, in which it saw an EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) loss of CHF14 million. Despite performance falling short of expectations, Meyer Burger said it expects to achieve break-even for the six-month period thanks to extraordinary income from the sale of its wafering business.

Disappointment

“I am disappointed with our half-year results,” said Meyer Burger CEO Hans Brändle before adding, with reference to another equipment supply order: “We have, however, achieved a decisive breakthrough with the delivery of our heterojunction and SmartWire cell connection technologies to REC. The first production line will soon be fully ramped up and the modules are already enjoying strong demand in the high-end segment. This success opens up new strategic opportunities for us.”

The full first-half results will be published on August 15, when Meyer Burger expects to report orders worth CHF94 million and net sales of CHF122 million. The company noted it is facing difficult conditions in its PERC [passivated emitter rear contact] cell equipment business thanks to falling prices for that type of manufacturing equipment, and it was “in advanced discussion” regarding its heterojunction and SmartWire cell connection platforms, though new orders have been delayed.

The company is undergoing a review of its business model, the results of which will be published “in due course”, Meyer Burger added, and could signal a major change in strategy.

“Business development in the first half of 2019 underlines the need to challenge our business model and corporate strategy,” said chairman Remo Lütolf. “We will evaluate all strategic options for the future. This includes discussions with industrial partners to develop new business models that create sustainable value for our company and our shareholders.”