Hemlock a drag on Dow Corning

The poor performance of US polysilicon giant Hemlock Semiconductor dragged sales at Dow Corning down sharply in the first quarter, as the threat of duties in China continues to represent a black cloud over the polysilicon sector.

Revenues for Dow Corning fell 17% to $1.26bn, while net income (excluding restructuring costs) fell 6% to $62.1m – reductions which the chemicals company pins on a “challenged” Hemlock.

Michigan-based Hemlock, one of the world’s largest suppliers of PV-grade polysilicon, is jointly owned by Dow Corning, Shin-Etsu Handotai and Mitsubishi Materials Corporation.

Sales were also down within Dow Corning’s silicones unit, but polysilicon took the biggest hit.

“Hemlock Semiconductor’s performance continued to worsen as the solar polysilicon industry deals with excess inventories and awaits resolution of the global trade disputes,” says Dow Corning chief financial officer J. Donald Sheets

The company says it expects Hemlock’s difficulties to continue through 2013.

Already struggling against sharp price declines, the global polysilicon sector’s problems have been exacerbated by the possibility that Beijing will impose duties on non-Chinese polysilicon as part of the spiraling PV trade war.

Earlier this week Hemlock rival Wacker Chemie reported significant declines in both sales and profits, despite rising volumes.