Solar Tribune

SolarWorld faces huge losses for 2012


Yesterday, SolarWorld announced a loss for the first half of 2012, and forecast an operating loss for the full year.

SolarWorld is Germany’s largest manufacturer of solar panels, and has spearheaded the push for tariffs on Chinese PV imports to the U.S. and the EU.

The firm announced a net loss of $197 million (159.3 million Euros) for the first half of 2012, with revenue down 36 percent over that period. The company attributed the net loss to write-downs on inventory, and the decreased revenue to price dumping.

The company revised forecasts for the fiscal year, saying it would not generate positive earnings before interest and taxes in 2012 thanks to an “aggressive market situation characterized by illegal trade practices.”

SolarWorld's U.S. HQ in Hillsboro, Oregon. Photo Credit: SolarWorld

After the news broke, SolarWorld’s shares fell 12 percent, and have dropped 83 percent over the past year.

But SolarWorld tried to put a positive spin on the situation, simultaneously announcing an additional 60 million Euro investment into technology that will improve module performance but decrease production costs.

“We have to fight price dumping with technological innovations,” said Frank Asbeck, CEO of SolarWorld.

SolarWorld, as part of two industry groups, has lodged trade complaints against Chinese firms with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the International Trade Commission and, most recently, the EU Commission.

In the U.S., Chinese firms face tariffs of up to 250 percent for PV imports. The EU Commission has yet to decide whether it will launch an investigation into Chinese PV imports entering the EU.

But despite SolarWorld’s successful campaign in the U.S., which has coincided with a drop in Chinese PV imports, the company has still struggled in a global market facing both oversupply and diminishing government support for solar.

“Solarworld’s weaker earnings is the result of the entire industry being under pressure for various reasons and it’s definitely not accurate to just point fingers at Chinese companies,” Arthur Chen, general counsel at Yingli Green Energy, China’s second-largest solar-panel manufacturer, told the Wall Street Journal.

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