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14.11.2011 19:57

Q-Cells presents report for third quarter 2011

  • Revenues of EUR 228.8 million and EBIT of EUR -47.3 million in third quarter
  • Liquidity increased in third quarter of 2011, reducing full year guidance as precaution
  • Revenue target of EUR 1 billion confirmed for 2011
  • Successful international projects business despite difficult market situation
  • CFO Marion Helmes resigns upon her own request – Supervisory Board re-assigns positions within Executive Board


Bitterfeld-Wolfen, 14 November 2011. Q-Cells SE, one of the world’s leading photovoltaics companies, has generated comparatively solid quarterly results in view of a market environment which also in the third quarter was significantly more difficult than had generally been expected. The company’s revenues in the third quarter amounted to EUR 228.8 million, following revenues of EUR 316.0 million in the preceding quarter, which included a major utility project. Revenues for the first nine months total EUR 669.9 million. The company expects that the implementation of several major utility projects in the fourth quarter will produce revenues of a level similar to the second quarter. Thus the company confirms its target to reach some EUR 1 billion in revenues for the current year. In the third quarter, the operating result was again negative, standing at EUR -47.3 million: this result was due largely to the continued fall in prices while purchasing prices declined with a time lag. Also, underutilisation of production capacities as well as expenditures for measures initiated in August 2011 had impacted operating results. On the other hand, unlike the preceding quarter, the third quarter was not affected by major write-offs. Instead, Q-Cells achieved its first positive free cash flow in 2011 of EUR 41.9 million, thereby among others lifting its cash and cash equivalents from EUR 169.5 million in the second quarter to EUR 230.3 million in the third quarter.

 

Module business performs well in third quarter – internationalisation taking effect

The development of our module business was uplifting: shipments in the third quarter were the highest recorded so far this year. Initial orders for the flat roof system unveiled in September also prove that the strategy of expanding photovoltaic applications is bearing fruit. In the first nine months of 2011, the share of solar cells sales in total sales fell from 69.2% compared to 46.5% in the previous year.

The second pillar of the strategic transformation, the further internationalisation, is also delivering increasingly positive results: Q-Cells has won its first major project in the important US market. The US utility PG&E has selected Q-Cells as a partner for projects comprising 30 megawatts in California in 2012 as part of a five-year photovoltaic program. Moreover, in Ontario, Canada, Q-Cells realised 33 MWp of a solar park comprising 66 MWp during the third quarter. In its home market Germany, Q-Cells was also able to announce significant project success stories in recent weeks: the sale of the largest European photovoltaics power plant (Brandenburg-Briest) and the delivery of solar modules into the world’s largest CIGS-thin-film solar power plant (Ammerland). In addition, Q-Cells has won new project clients in Japan, Australia, India and Malaysia.

Nedim Cen, CEO of Q-Cells SE said: “Q-Cells has scored important successes in what remains a highly competitive solar market. On top of a stable products business major international projects demonstrate that our clients decide for quality and reliability ‘engineered in Germany’ by Q-Cells.”

Following very weak results in the first half of 2011 and in anticipation of an equally tough market in 2012, Q-Cells announced a series of measures already in August in order to adjust production capacities as well as streamline the organisational structure. Overhead costs are to be reduced by approximately 25% in 2012. In this course some 250 employees are leaving the company until the end of the year as part of personnel adjustment measures. With this package Q-Cells makes a further step to remain competitive in the international market.

 

Re-assignment of Executive Board positions

Marion Helmes resigned from her position as CFO of Q-Cells SE by her own request with effect from 14 November 2011 end of day. The Supervisory Board accepted her resignation but regrets her decision. Marion Helmes contributed significantly to the development of the company’s financial organisation during her time as an Executive Board member. The Supervisory Board would like to thank her for her commitment.

The Supervisory Board decided to concentrate the Executive Board to two members in view of the company’s current situation. Responsibilities will be re-assigned: Nedim Cen will assume the position of CFO in addition to his role as CEO. COO Andreas von Zitzewitz will take over the additional responsibility for Marketing and Sales from Nedim Cen.

“In the current situation, Nedim Cen, with his in-depth knowledge of restructuring processes, will take over the task of providing a solid medium-term financial basis for the company, pushing these activities forward in his double role as CEO and CFO,” commented Karlheinz Hornung, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, on the re-allocation of responsibilities on the Executive Board. “Andreas von Zitzewitz will take on the position of CSO in addition to his role as COO. With this streamlined management organisation the company is set up to operate effectively.”

 

Outlook

As previously stated, Q-Cells expects revenues of approximately EUR 1 billion and an operating result in the negative three-digit million range for the full year 2011. This includes an expected operating loss in the fourth quarter, as already published in August.

Sales prices in the first half year of 2011 have fallen more than expected due to weak demand. In addition, uncertainties regarding the further development of the photovoltaic market have not diminished in the past quarter contrary to expectations. These developments could have a negative impact on the planned increase in cash and cash equivalents in the fourth quarter of 2011. Although the current liquidity forecast still is within the existing range of 300 to EUR 350 million, the company has taken the precaution of lowering the liquidity forecast for the end of 2011 due to still existing uncertainty about the operational development in the fourth quarter 2011. By the end of the third quarter, Q-Cells was able to increase cash and cash equivalents to EUR 230.3 million. The company expects a further increase of cash and cash equivalents to up to EUR 300 million until the end of the year 2011. This is expected to include restricted cash between EUR 60 to 70 million.

With a view to the cash and cash equivalents required for the operating business, it cannot be excluded that the company will not be able to fully repay the convertible bond due in February 2012. Against this background Q-Cells has contacted important bondholders who are invested in the company’s convertible bonds. Already at the end of October, the holders of the 2012 bond had elected a joint representative, thereby creating the possibility to defer the maturity of the convertible bond 2012 to a point in time after February 2012.

As already announced, Q-Cells has mandated investment bank Houlihan Lokey with assessing possible options. In connection with the company’s financial liabilities, Q-Cells is currently also updating its medium-term business plan as announced, being validated by a renowned business consultancy. The process of preparing this plan is in advanced stages and due to be concluded in the course of November.

 

KEY FIGURES

 

EUR million (exluding production)

Q3 2010

Q2 2011

Q3 2011

Production

305 MWp

147 MWp

156 MWp

Sales revenues

401,6

316,0

228,8

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA)

58,4

-140,7

-24,3

Operating income (EBIT)

36,7

-307,7

-47,3

Net results (after minorities)

-19,9

-354,8

-57,1

 

 

NOTE TO EDITORS

Visual material relating to the company is available under http://www.q-cells.com/presse.html

Please find a presentation regarding the results of the third quarter on our website www.q-cells.com in the investor relations section