China Policy Factor Impacts Meyer Burger 2018 Numbers

Meyer Burger 2018 Net Sales Suffer From Global Political & Business Uncertainties As Incoming Orders Slip; Announces Strategic Partnership With Oxford PV & COO Daniel Lippuner’s Departure
01:10 AM (Beijing Time) - 23. March 2019
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In H1/2018, Meyer Burger reported profitability, but the second half of last year saw net sales dropping to CHF 175 million ($175.6 million), taking total net sales to CHF 407 million ($408.5 million), down 14% over previous year. Its incoming orders too slipped compared to 2017. (Source: Meyer Burger Technology Ltd)

Key Takeaways

  • Meyer Burger’s net sales during 2018 were 14% less than 2017, adding up to CHF 407 million ($408.5 million)
  • Incoming orders dropped over the year, with order backlog as of December 31, 2018 was CHF 240.5 million ($241 million), coming down from CHF 343.8 million ($345 million) in 2017
  • It managed to slightly contain its net loss for the year at CHF 59.4 million ($59.6 million), while a year back it was CHF 79.3 million ($79.6 million)
  • COO Daniel Lippuner is on his way out of the company’s executive board, bringing down the board size to 4

The subsidy cuts that the Chinese government introduced on May 31, 2018 or 531 for its solar industry had a ripple effect across the world, with several companies experiencing a downslide in the second half of 2018. Meyer Burger was one of them, though this wasn’t the only factor that pulled down its net sales by 14% for last year to CHF 407 million ($408.5 million), compared to CHF 473.3 million ($475 million) reported in 2017.

Tariffs imposed by the United States in January 2018 on imported solar panels, the trade dispute between the US and China, a preference of Chinese manufacturers for locally produced manufacturing equipment and competitive selling prices for manufacturing equipment are the other issues that were responsible for the downslide of the company’s incoming orders. In 2017, the incoming orders were worth CHF 560.7 million ($563 million), but numbers tumbled down to CHF 326.8 million ($328 million) in 2018.

Its total order backlog as on December 31, 2018 was CHF 240.5 million ($241 million). A year back, it stood at CHF 343.8 million ($345 million).

Operating income of the company after costs of products and services was a total of CHF 200.8 million ($201.5 million) reflecting margin of 49.3%, growing over previous year’s 41.2%. EBITDA increased to CHF 26.1 million ($26 million) with EBITDA margin of 6.4%.

The company’s net loss came down slightly to CHF 59.4 million ($59.6 million), compared to previous year’s CHF 79.3 million ($79.6 million).

In H1/2018, the Swiss company had reported returning to profitability after a long period of losses (see Meyer Burger: Profitable & More Restructuring).

Business outlook

The year 2019 has started suprising and positive news from the Swiss company investing in leading British perovskite start-up Oxford PV. Their focus will be on HJT cells paired with perovskite silicon solar cells to create tandem cells and establish a 200 MW pilot production (see Meyer Burger & Oxford PV Announce Partnership).

Meyer Burger management hasn’t shared any specific guidance for the current year. The company says 2019 is difficult to predict due to political uncertainties, as trade tariffs, energy policies and expected Chinese subsidy policies. Yet, it sees the year as an ‘inflection point for new technologies as HJT & SWCT and TOPCon, as attractive gross margins are starting to replace PERC.

Changes at board level

With the company’s focus on cell and module technologies and after the successful sale of its wafer unit, Meyer Burger has reduced the number of its board members from 5 to 4, bidding adieu to COO Daniel Lippuner who is set to leave the Executive Board by the end of June 2019. No reason was given for his departure, but the management thanked Lippuner for his contributions to Meyer Burger.

Anu Bhambhani

Anu Bhambhani is the Senior News Editor of TaiyangNews

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Anu Bhambhani