MEMC bullish over rest of 2013

Investors forgave MEMC Electronic Materials for a weak first quarter, as it maintained its bullishness about its solar activities for the rest of 2013.

Missouri-based MEMC narrowed its first-quarter loss to $89.4m – down from $98.6m during the same period in 2012 – even as revenues dropped 15% to $443.6m.

The smaller loss was largely attributable to an improved performance from its Semiconductor Materials business segment, while the revenue drop resulted from weakness in its Solar Energy division – both in terms of selling its own PV kit and commissioning projects.

But MEMC – which will soon adopt the name of its solar-development arm, SunEdison – had expected a “soft” quarter for solar, as chief executive Ahmad Chatila put it, as the company eased up on development spending throughout 2012.

The company interconnected 41MW of PV capacity across 27 projects during the first quarter – yet maintained its full-year target of 430MW-500MW.

Having broken ground on just 38MW of solar capacity during the final quarter of 2012, MEMC bumped that figure up to 104MW during the first quarter.

“We expect the recent increase in construction activity to produce better results later this year,” says Chatila.

Investors largely bought that line, with shares down just 0.4% on 9 May to $5.05 – having risen by nearly 50% since the beginning of the year.

In addition to the imminent name change announced in March, MEMC also launched a finance division to focus on aggregating capital to build and in some cases own large PV projects around the world.

Last month the company linked up with Brazilian energy giant Petrobras to build a 1.1MW array, in what will become one of the largest solar projects in Brazil.

MEMC anticipates staying on as owner-operator for as much as 100MW of the PV capacity it builds this year.

Chatila says the company remains “excited about our opportunities in solar energy”.