Conergy sees Q1 sales boost

German PV group Conergy maintained its guidance for a return to operating profit this year as sales in the first quarter soared, but losses still widened amid a carry-over effect of a fall in prices at the end of 2012.

“This is the best opening quarter Conergy ever recorded in terms of volume. We have gained market share, almost doubled our volume and increased sales by one quarter, despite the sustained excess capacities in the global market," said Conergy CEO Philip Comberg in an earnings release today.

“Although the substantial fall in prices affected our income for a large part of the first quarter, prices have become more stable and have even risen slightly in some cases since mid-March,” he said.

Conergy saw its volume increase by 83% to 128MW in the first quarter from a year earlier, pushed up by a “strong market position and excellent access to rooftops” in Europe, and a boom in the company’s growing Asian and American business. That translated into sales of €122.1m ($158.9m), a 24%-increase over the year-ago quarter.

Nevertheless, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) saw a loss of €11.7m in the first quarter, more than the €7.6m loss recorded a year earlier, amid a 40% decline in prices that still affected January and February in particular, Conergy said.

Also, in the first quarter of 2012, the company’s Ebitda had been boosted by a one-off gain of €4.7m from the sale of the inverter unit Voltwerk Electronics.

Conergy posted a net loss of €17.8m in the first quarter, widened from a €14.7m net loss a year earlier.

The company board still expects a “slightly positive Ebitda” for the whole of 2013, and assuming that price levels recover raised its sales forecast to between €700m and €800m for this year, from an earlier forecast range of €650m to €750m.

The main factor behind the optimistic guidance is a rise in large-scale power plant construction projects in Asia and North America, as well as in new export markets such as Eastern Europe, Conergy said.

“In terms of Ebitda, the Board continues to assume that the strategic realignment is now for the most part complete and that, as sales rise, this will have a positive effect on income,” the company said.

Ahead of its earnings release Conergy late on Monday said it is issuing an unsecured convertible bond totalling €4.58m to two strategic investors with an annual coupon of 7% that is due on 30 June 2015.

“For 2013 we strive to increase our volumes and sales considerably,” said CEO Comberg. “We intend to achieve this mainly through the large-scale project business, which is relatively capital-intensive. With the additional liquidity, we are now more flexible to implement our well-stocked project pipeline even more successfully."