Thalheim, June 28, 2006 - In the run-up to tomorrow's Annual General Meeting Q-Cells AG (QCE; WKN 555866) has announced an additional expansion of production capacity in the core business and investments in new business fields in thin film technologies.
Based on the supplies of silicon and silicon wafers secured over the medium term, construction of a fifth production line is planned for the Thalheim location to begin as early as the third quarter of 2006. After completion of all four construction phases, the production line will have a nominal capacity of 240 MWp, which corresponds to a production capacity of approx. 192 MWp. The first of the four production line segments is expected to go into operation in the third quarter of 2007.
In addition, Q-Cells AG will invest a sum in the high tens of millions in the development of new business fields in thin film technologies in the coming years. The Company has already founded two subsidiaries for this purpose and invested in VHF-Technologies SA ("flexcell") in Switzerland, which produces flexible solar modules on a thin-film silicon basis. Q-Cells has an initial stake of 15.5 % in VHF-Technologies, with the option of a gradual increase to 51 %.
Q-Cells has also slightly raised its forecast for fiscal 2006. The Company is now anticipating revenue of approx. EUR 500 million for the current fiscal year, with EBIT of approx. EUR 105 million and net income of approx. EUR 68 million. Q-Cells is basing this earnings increase on a significant increase in productivity beyond the forecasted levels and the Company's success in reducing cell thickness, which has also exceeded expectations.
Conversion and capacity expansion measures are currently carried out on existing production lines in order to increase nominal capacity from the current 350 MWp to 420 MWp (production capacity of approx. 336 MWp) by the end of the year. Earnings for the second quarter of 2006 are expected to be approximately at the level of the first quarter, both in terms of revenue and net income despite the aforementioned measures.