SAG Solarstrom bets on big Q4

SAG Solarstrom has bet the year on a huge fourth quarter, sticking to its ambitious installation targets despite having fallen well behind due to concerns – now largely put to rest – about the EU-China solar spat.

The German PV specialist has stuck by its target of reporting an operating profit on 117MW of installed capacity for the whole of 2013.

Through the first three quarters of the year, however, Solarstrom installed just 44.4MW and was staring at an operating loss of €2.8m ($3.8m).

Solarstrom’s earnings were buoyed significantly by its profitable solar O&M business – which oversees nearly 34,000 PV systems globally, or 8GW of capacity – and its PV-generation unit.

Its Plant Construction division, however, remains by far the largest within the Freiburg company, and the division’s slump in revenues and €6.3m operating loss weighed heavily on the overall results.

The Plant Construction division installed slightly more capacity through the first three quarters of 2013 compared to last year – 44.4MW compared to 42.8MW last year – even as overall PV installation volumes fell 50% in Europe.

But the division’s earnings were hit by the ongoing decrease in the cost of PV systems.

Solarstrom has nimbly shifted its construction activities into the UK, where has it clocked-up nearly two-thirds of of its revenues this year, compared to just 25% in Germany.

The company has also invested in expanding into emerging markets in places like Turkey, Africa and Latin America.

“We are convinced that our aggressive expansion strategy has laid crucial foundations for profiting from market growth at the end of the consolidation phase,”says chief executive Karl Kuhlmann.

Shares in the company fell nearly 4% in early trading on its earnings report.