Wacker says market environment for polysilicon is difficult


German chemical group and polysilicon maker Wacker Chemie is partially satisfied with its start to the new fiscal year. The company said that the market environment for polysilicon is difficult. “Spot-market prices for solar silicon have declined significantly in recent weeks,” said a press statement from Wacker.

The group, however, expects further growth in the global PV market for this year, and that this growth “will have a positive impact on polysilicon demand”.

In the first quarter, the company’s polysilicon business achieved a turnover of $291.5 milliom. This is 2% down compared to the same quarter in 2016 and 10% over the previous quarter. The company blames lower volumes in the solar business for this revenue decline.

Higher polysilicon prices, Wacker specified, supported the division’s sales. In the past weeks, however, prices for polysilicon dropped significantly, the company added. “The division made use of this situation to increase its inventory levels in Asia, and thus considerably shorten delivery times to its customers in the region,” said Wacker in its statement.

The division’s Ebitda for the quarter was $77 million, up 79% compared to a year earlier. This result was attributable to the costs incurred last year for the commissioning of the U.S. polysilicon plant in Charleston, Tennessee. Compared to the fourth quarter of last year, however, Ebitda declined by 19%. “One of the main reasons for this decrease,” Wacker said, “was the special income of $14.5 million posted in Q4 2016 from advance payments retained and damages received from solar-sector customers.”

Overall, Wacker Chemie achieved revenue of $1.32 billion in the first quarter, up around 8% year-on-year. The company’s operating income for the quarter was $80 million, meaning an operating margin of 6.1%.

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