Hard going for poly-giant Wacker

Rising demand for polysilicon helped third quarter results at Wacker Chemie to some extent, but continued low prices for solar silicon remain a challenge, the supplier of the raw material to the global PV industry said.

The Munich-based company posted a slight growth of 1% in sales to €1.17bn ($1.6bn) in the third quarter compared to Q2, but sales were still 3% lower than in the same period a year ago.

Sales were helped by rising volumes that translated into €112m in additional revenue, but that was almost wiped out by lower prices that shaved €109m off the overall sales figure.

“Demand for polysilicon continued to surge in the third quarter, lifted not only by the compromise reached in the solar dispute between the European Union and China, but also by mounting global interest in solar power,” says chief executive Rudolf Staudigl.

But “the prices for solar silicon remain a challenge. They were about one-third lower than a year ago.”

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) fell almost 19% from a year earlier to €167.9m, while net profit plunged 81% in the third quarter to €5.4m.

Unfavourable exchange-rate effects also played a part, as well as the sale of solar silicon from inventories, the company said.

For the full year 2013, Wacker Chemie expects net income to be only in slightly positive territory.