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SolarWorld posts strong 2010 results, sees higher 2011 sales

SolarWorld, Germany’s largest module maker by market capitalisation, saw its share price zoom after revealing higher-than-expected earnings for fiscal-year 2010 and predicting higher sales for next year.

Bonn-based SolarWorld shipped 819MW of modules and wafers in 2010, compared to 578MW in 2009, according to preliminary figures.

The firm’s revenues rose 29% year on year to €1.31bn ($1.78bn), while its operating profit grew 26% to €193m.

Chief executive Frank Asbeck, often referred to as the “Sun King” in the German press due to his outspoken support for Germany’s domestic solar industry, proposed a dividend of €0.19 per share, compared to the €0.16 per share paid out last year.

SolarWorld’s share price fattened by more than 10% to €8.57 on the announcement, though it remains down more than 25% in the past year.

Asbeck declines to offer a sales forecast for 2011, citing the ongoing reduction in the average sales price of PV cells and modules. But he expects revenues to grow again next year, due in large part to rapid growth in the US, where the company is ramping up production capacity at its vertically integrated facility in Oregon to 350MW.

Last week Norwegian competitor REC announced rosier-than-expected preliminary results, and PV players across the board continue to offer broadly positive outlooks for this year and next, despite continued reductions in solar support schemes across a basket of key European markets.

In November SolarWorld launched a voluntary public takeover offer for German project developer Solarparc, underscoring its desire to push down the value chain and become a major international developer. SolarWorld offered Solarparc’s shareholders the opportunity to swap one share of the latter for one share of the former – representing a premium of 26% at the time.

The offer led to SolarWorld accumulating a 90% stake in Solarparc, and it has now opened a second acceptance period running through 17 February on the same terms. However, Solarparc shares are now trading at €8.35 – nearly on par with SolarWorld, and substantially higher than before the takeover offer was mooted.