Inverter manufacturer SMA Solar Technology AG, has exceeded its own revenue guidance (€235 and €240 million) by over €13 million, driven by strong demand in the commercial PV segment. It increased its PV inverter capacity sales by 21.3% to 2.1 GW, against 1.7 GW in Q1/2015. The German company is bullish on its 2016 prospects thanks to an order backlog of €691.6 million at the end of first quarter.

SMA faced a challenging time over the past few quarters, cutting costs and laying off employees to stay afloat. While announcing its 2015 results in March 2015, the company returned to profitability and said that now it can generate profits even with much lower sales (see SMA returns to profitability in 2015).

International share of revenue improves
The international share to the total revenue increased to 92.4%, from 88% last year at the same time. North and South America contributed 46.1% to the total sales, while Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region added 34.4% and Asia-Pacific contributed 19.5% of external sales. While the Americas grew from Q1/2015 (36.2%), EMEA region sales went down (19.2%) and Asia-Pacific changed only slightly (19.2%). Commercial and utility segments in the Americas had the biggest impact on sales.

Utility-scale inverters contribute most to growth
To the overall revenue of €253.8 million, the commercial and residential segments account for €41.4 million or 14%. External sales in the commercial business of medium-sized PV systems improved 52.8% YoY to €59.9 million. The residential business earned the group €46.1 million, 4.3% less than last year. While the residential segment performed best in the Americas region, the EMEA region generated 41% of gross sales for the group.

The largest contributor to growth for the group was the utility segment, which caters to large scale PV power plants. External sales in this segment were €115.3 million, increasing 1.5% over last year. It contributed 45.4% of the total group sales, though down from 50.2% in Q1/2015; with the Americas making up the main share of it.

The utility segment drove sales for SMA in Q1/2016, though its share decreased year-on-year.

The utility segment drove sales for SMA in Q1/2016, though its share decreased year-on-year.

External service sales increased to €12.8 million from €11 million on YoY basis.

2016 guidance confirmed
For the full year 2016, SMA confirmed its guidance of €950 to €1,050 million and a significant increase in EBIT in the range of €80 to €120 million. CEO Pierre-Pascal Urbon, said, “The strategic partnership we entered into with Tigo Energy in April will also enable us to tap into the growing market for smart module technology, a market that was previously closed to us. With this strategic step, SMA has laid the foundation for further growth, especially in the Residential and Commercial segments, and will globally market a highly flexible and cost-effective solution to optimize the performance of PV modules in the next few months.”