Bitterfeld-Wolfen, 12 May 2009 – Q-Cells SE (QCE; ISIN DE0005558662) published its report as of 31 March 2009. At 154.4 MWp, overall production is at more or less the same level as the previous quarter (Q4 2008: 156.2 MWp) and significantly up on the same quarter of the previous year (Q1 2008: 117.2 MWp). The production of crystalline solar cells accounted for the bulk of overall production at 150.8 MWp while that of fully consolidated thin-film holdings amounted to 3.6 MWp. Consolidated Group sales in the first quarter came to € 224.8 million, down 17% year-on-year (Q1 2008: € 269.7 million). Total output (including inventory increase) in the first three months amounted to € 282.2 million (Q1 2008: € 264.5 million) and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) came to € 14.7 million (Q1 2008: € 58.9 million).
The core business of solar cell production generated significantly positive operating income despite the difficult situation arising from the strong seasonal effects at the start of the year. With sales of € 238.1 million (Q1 2008: € 269.0 million/Q4 2008: € 250.1 million) and a total output (including inventory increase) of € 280.6 million, EBIT amounted to € 33.0 million (EBIT margin approx. 12%). Both operating income and the EBIT margin were therefore slightly up on the previous quarter (Q4 2008: € 31.9 million/11%) despite the fall in revenues. At € 18.9 million, net income for the period also improved slightly on Q4 (€ 15.9 million). The result for the cell division also includes start-up costs of some € 2,5 million incurred from the new production site in Malaysia. The revenues of the cell division partially include sales to the Q-Cells International project business that were consolidated in the Group revenues.
The Q-Cells International project business also had a successful start to 2009 with first-quarter revenues of € 84.6 million that accordingly almost reached those for the whole of 2008 (€ 91.9 million). Q-Cells International achieved an EBIT of € 9.0 million with an EBIT margin of around 10%.
In addition to the consolidation of the Group's internal revenues and income contribution, New Technologies also had a major impact on the Group's operating income. Altogether an operating loss of € 10.0 million was incurred on the fully consolidated holdings in the first three months (net result for the period: € -6.9 million). Result from investments in companies consolidated at equity (excluding REC) came to € -14.5 million which was primarily attributable to an € 9.4 million depreciation on the stake in Solaria. The pro-rata income contribution of the REC holding amounted to € 4.7 million. Owing to the continued fall in REC’s share price in the first quarter, a write-down against income on REC’s carrying value of € 387.0 million was carried out (carrying value of the holding at the end of Q1 2009: € 668.5 million). The write-downs (without any impact on liquidity) on the REC and Solaria holdings resulted in a Group loss in the first quarter of € 391.9 million. Adjusted for these two extraordinary write-downs, Q-Cells posted net income of € 4.5 million in the first quarter of 2009 (Q1 2008: € 54.4 million; Q4 2008: € 34.9 million).
The sale of the REC holding for approx. € 530 million last week leads to a write-down against income of the difference between the carrying value at the end of the first quarter of 2009 and sales proceeds in the second quarter. The inflow of funds from the sale not only secured the financing of the company but also brought about an increase in the equity ratio following repayment of the bridging loan to approx. 65%. This means that the company remains on a very secure footing.
In view of the ongoing uncertain market environment due to financing restrictions for larger PV systems in particular, it is currently still difficult to give a precise forecast for the full year. Assuming a production volume of between 600 and 800 MWp (previously 800 MWp to 1 GWp), Group revenues of between € 1.3 billion and € 1.6 billion seem to be possible at the present time (previous target: € 1.7 billion to € 2.1 billion). With installations of more than 150 MWp (previously 100 to 200 MWp), the Q-Cells International project business should make a disproportionately large contribution to Group revenues compared with the previous year.
The report as of 31 March 2009 and an up-to-date company presentation are available for download in the Investor Relations section of the Q-Cells SE website (www.q-cells.de).