Weak Q1 for inverter giant SMA

SMA Solar Technology had a weak start to the fiscal year 2014, with sales falling 17% in the first quarter to €176.3m ($241.3m) from a year earlier as its inverter output shrank to 1GW from 1.2GW.

The company said the lower sales come due to a decline in its project business amid uncertainty in Europe due to the Ukraine crisis, project delays in North America and monetary turmoil in India.

That pushed SMA’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) into a €2.5m loss, compared to a €9.4m gain in the year-earlier quarter. Net losses widened to €16.7m from a loss of €5.8m a year earlier.

While the negative trend in Europe continued, America and Asia provided growth impetus. SMA kept the international share of its sales stable at 68%.

With gross sales of €57.2m, down from €71.3m a year earlier, Germany was the market with the strongest sales in the first quarter of 2014, but still saw a steep decline due to the persisting debate about the reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), SMA says.

Important foreign markets were North America, Great Britain and Australia.

“Due to the ongoing political discussion in Germany and project delays abroad, SMA recorded a high loss in the first quarter of 2014,” chief executive Pierre-Pascal Urbon says.

“We are not satisfied with the sales and earnings. We will continue to focus our strategy on developing new technological approaches, entering new markets and systematically reducing costs.

"We will present the first products of the next generation at the leading trade fairs in Germany and China in the coming weeks.”