Meyer Burger latest solar company to feel the heat

The Swiss solar equipment maker is expected to ask shareholders for 150 million Swiss francs (US$159.5 million) after a slump in demand for solar cells pushed it to a full-year loss.

Meyer Burger made net loss of 116 million francs for 2012 compared with a profit of 36 million francs a year ago.

The loss provides more evidence of problems facing the solar industry, where companies in Europe and the United States have struggled with overcapacity, falling prices, low-cost Asian competition and cuts in Government subsidies.

SolarWorld is trying to do a deal with creditors on a restructuring plan, and Bosch said last week it would sell or shut down its heavily loss-making solar energy operations. Just last week we reported that Suntech had declared itself bankrupt as SPV Market Research reported that top PV manufacturers lost over $2bn in 2012.

Other German companies that have suffered include Q-Cells, which went bankrupt and was saved by Hanwha SolarOne; Solarhybrid, Solon, Solar Millenium, and Schott Solar.

The company has shed 22 percent of its workforce since the start of 2012 as part of efforts to cut spending by 60 million francs annually from this year. It has taken out 30 million francs in loans to invest in its production and technology site in Thun, Switzerland.

It was cautiously optimistic for 2013, saying it expected a "significant" increase in orders, mostly in the second half. Due to a lag in how the company books revenue, pre-payments that customers are willing to make for this year's orders will be key, the company said.

"Meyer Burger expects net sales in an amount of about 400 million Swiss francs for the current year 2013, whereby the larger part will be recorded during the second half of the year," it said in a statement.

The company said it could break even on earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) if it could win sales of 500 million francs this year. In 2012, sales fell to 645 million francs from 1.315 billion year-ago.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity