SolarWorld suffers German sales pain

SolarWorld, Europe’s largest PV manufacturer, narrowed its 2013 net loss amid cost cutting measures, but a plunge in revenue in its German home market was too severe to be compensated for by increased sales in the US and Asia. 

SolarWorld’s net loss narrowed to €228.3m ($314.3m) in 2013, from €606.3m in 2012, the company said in its consolidated 2013 report. SolarWorld confirmed that revenue went down to €455.8m from €606.4m a year earlier.

The PV firm earlier this month had already given preliminary 2013 results for revenue, but not for its net loss.

Also, on March 6, the company had said that it wasn’t able to fully make up for lower sales in Germany with increased sales to export markets in Europe, the US, Japan and South Africa, without providing exact figures for each market.

The publication of the full 2013 report allows for a closer look at those markets and shows just how dramatic the plunge in Germany was. SolarWorld’s revenue from sales in what is still Europe’s largest PV market more than halved to €134.2m in 2013 from €300.3m in 2012.

“The financial restructuring has harmed the operative business,” chief executive Frank Asbeck says.

“The situation of SolarWorld has unsettled in particular clients in our home market Germany.” The company over the course of the past year has carried out a restructuring including a debt-to-equity swap in which 55% of SolarWorld’s liabilities were converted into shares.

Previous shareholders in the process lost 95% of their holdings, helping the company to reduce its debt from close to €1bn to €427m. Sales in the US, meanwhile, rose to €155m from 139.8m in 2012, while sales in the booming Asian market rose only slightly to €26.1m from €20m.

SolarWorld is making some inroads in the recently red-hot Japanese market, but the door to China remains firmly shut after the company had successfully pushed for anti-dumping measures against Chinese PV kit in the US and Europe.