Thalheim, 15 May 2007 - Q-Cells AG (QCE; WKN 555866) published its interim report for the first quarter of 2007. The world’s second largest manufacturer of solar cells continued its growth, in the first three months of 2007 increasing its production to 78.0 megawatt peak (MWp) (previous year: 53.7 MWp). This is a year-on-year increase of 45% against the first quarter of 2006.
Sales increased by 43% to EUR 163.5 million (EUR 114.7 million). EBIT improved by 37% to EUR 36.2 million (EUR 26.5 million) with technological advances and further cost reductions offsetting higher material costs and lower sales prices at the beginning of the year.
Net income for the first quarter (after minority interests) was EUR 23.8 million (EUR 17.0 million), without taking into account the stake in REC Renewable Energy Corporation ASA. This equates to an increase of 40 % on the same period of the previous year. Following the acquisition of the 17.9 % stake in REC, the world’s largest manufacturer of silicon and silicon wafers for solar cell production, the pro rata profit was included in the Q-Cells AG result for the first time. This increases net income for the period by EUR 7 million. An additional positive earnings effect of EUR 2.9 million results from the revaluation of the put options for the REC share vis a vis Orkla AS required for the reporting date. As a result, net income for the period was EUR 33.7 million (+99 %). If the put option is not taken into account, net income for the first quarter amounts to EUR 30.8 million (+81 %).
As a result of further internationalisation, the export ratio was improved to 57.6 %.
After the capital increase and the issue of the convertible bond in February 2007, Q-Cells AG equity now totals approximately EUR 1.7 billion. The equity ratio is 73%. This means that Q-Cells AG has created a solid foundation for financing further growth. On the basis of the figures for the first quarter of 2007, the current contractually secured supply of silicon and silicon wafers and the new consensus estimates for REC results, the company is raising its forecast for the 2007 financial year. Production volume should rise to approximately 360 MWp (PY: 253.7 MWp). Previously the company assumed a production volume of 340 MWp. Accordingly Q-Cells AG expects sales of approximately EUR 750 million for the 2007 financial year (previously: EUR 705 million). In the core business, net income of at least EUR 120 million is expected (previously: at least EUR 115 million). Furthermore, start-up costs for the new technologies will in part be offset by the one-off result from silicon sales and are expected to result in total expenses of approximately EUR 10 million. On the basis of current consensus estimates, the pro rata result of REC will be EUR 40 million, so that without taking into account the earnings impact of the put options, Q-Cells AG is anticipating net income for the year of at least EUR 150 million.
To allow for continuous fast growth, Q-Cells is accelerating the expansion of its production capacities. Production line V, which is currently nearing first acceptance tests, is planned to reach a production capacity of 240 MWp until mid-2008 (equivalent to a nominal capacity of 300 MWp; versus 180 MWp production capacity/225 MWp nominal as previously planned). Line VI is currently in planning and expected to be completed until the end of 2008 with a production capacity of 300 MWp (375 MWp nominally), 60 MWp more than hitherto planned. With these new lines Q-Cells AG will have available an overall production capacity in its core business of 876 MWp at the end of 2008 (equivalent to a nominal capacity of 1.1 Gigawattpeak).
For 2008, Q-Cells AG is retaining its objective of achieving sales of approx. EUR 1 billion and a return on sales of 13%. Due to the Elkem volume, sales growth of approx. 40 % is being targeted for 2009.
The report on the first quarter and a current company presentation are available for downloading on the Q-Cells AG web site (www.q-cells.com) in the Investor Relations section.