SMA sees possible 2013 loss

German inverter-maker SMA Solar predicts a difficult year in 2013, including a potential loss, after seeing its profits plunge last year on increasing price pressure and tougher competition.

“2013 will be a tough year for the solar sector. The photovoltaic market is currently undergoing major changes,” says chief executive Pierre-Pascal Urbon. “However, we focused our corporate strategy on the future requirements of the energy sector at an early stage.”

With the development of innovative system technology and energy management solutions, cost-cutting efforts and an ongoing internationalisation, SMA is well positioned to take opportunities arising in international photovoltaic markets, Urbon says.

Despite those efforts, SMA’s managing board says it cannot exclude the possibility of a loss this year.

In comparison to many German solar manufacturers incurring heavy losses, SMA performed reasonably well in 2012, posting a consolidated net profit of €75.1m ($96.5m) -- down from €166.1m a year earlier.

The management board will recommend a dividend of €0.60 per share at the annual general meeting on 23 May.

SMA’s sales in 2012 fell to €1.5bn from €1.7bn in 2011, while its earnings before interest and taxes plunged to €102m from €240.3m.

The management board predicts sales to recede to a figure between €0.9bn and €1.3bn this year.

Cuts in German PV subsidies had a noticeable negative effect on demand for inverters in the fourth quarter, SMA says. The company sold inverters with a total output of 7.2GW in 2012, down from 7.6GW in 2011.

Amid a downward trend in Europe, the company increased its export ratio to 56.3% last year from 53.6% in 2011, with significant growth impulses coming from North America, Japan and Thailand.