SolarWorld with leap in operating profits in 2008
Bonn, Germany, March 26, 2009 - In fiscal year 2008, the SolarWorld group (SolarWorld AG) achieved a group-wide increase in profit and sales according to plan. Due to an expansion of production capacity and strong demand both in Germany and abroad, group sales rose by 30.6 percent or 210.7 million euro to 900.3 (previous year: 689.6) million euro.
Operating earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) climbed by 31.1 percent or 61.9 million euro to 260.8 (previous year: 198.9) million euro. Group profit grew by 31.3 percent or 35.4 million euro to 148.7 (previous year: 113.3) million euro. This increase was primarily driven by the positive development of business operations, a lower tax burden due to the 2008 corporate tax reform in Germany and the proceeds from the disposal of the 65 percent stake in Gällivare PhotoVoltaic AB (GPV) of 13.4 million euro.
"Due to the increase in our operating profit we again wish to let our shareholders participate in our business success this year," said Dipl.-Ing. Frank H. Asbeck, CEO of SolarWorld AG. "The Board of Management and the Supervisory Board will jointly propose therefore an increase in the dividend to 15 euro cents to the Annual General Meeting."
In fiscal year 2008, the group successfully continued its international expansion. The group-wide share of foreign business grew by 5 percentage points year-on-year to 54 (previous year: 49) percent. With the commissioning of the group's own ultramodern production facilities in Hillsboro, USA, and South Korea, the group significantly expanded its international market position in the year under review.
Financial flexibility for further international growth of the group
The group continued to expand its solid liquidity: at year-end liquid funds totalled 836.1 (previous year: 792.9) million euro. A high equity ratio of 39.7 (previous year: 40.6) percent additionally creates a reliable basis for further group growth. "Due to the sustainable profitability of SolarWorld we are well positioned in an international comparison. Our short- to medium-term growth targets will be implemented as scheduled. At the same time, we intend to preserve a strategic liquidity reserve," commented CFO Dipl.-Kfm. tech. Philipp Koecke on the company's solid financial position.
SolarWorld uses its good credit rating to raise additional outside capital. On March 24, 2009 a consortium loan of 200 million euro was raised. SolarWorld concluded this long-term loan with a consortium comprised of German commercial banks.
The Executive Board expects the group-wide growth to continue in the current year. "We will retain our pace of growth and continue the approved projects for an expansion of production capacity as scheduled," said Frank H. Asbeck. The Hillsboro site in the USA, opened last year, will thus be further expanded. A new building covering 210,000 sq.ft. is to be built for logistics, distribution and production purposes on the premises by the end of November 2009. The surface of the previous building will thus be increased by 44 percent.
SolarWorld is already the largest manufacturer of crystalline solar power technology producing in the USA. By 2011, the Hillsboro site is to reach a capacity of 500 MW and employ about 1,000 people working for SolarWorld. In the USA, the group expects further market growth as of 2009 due to the turnaround in the energy sector announced by US President Barack Obama.
"In order to strengthen our competitiveness we will also invest more intensely in research and the development of our powerful SolarWorld brand", said Asbeck. From the SolarWorld management's point of view, prices will inevitably fall on the path towards achieving the goal of grid parity. Against this backdrop and assuming that the macroeconomic development will stabilise in the second half of 2009, the board plans to generate sales over previous year's level with 1 billion euro as next stage's goal.
Integrated annual and sustainability report again obtains A+ rating by the Global Reporting Initiative
In fiscal year 2008 SolarWorld prepared a sustainability report integrated in the consolidated annual report for the second time, applying the international standard of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The report was again rated reporting level A+ since the completeness and accuracy of disclosures was audited externally by an auditing company and in a second instance by GRI. Moreover, the sustainability indicators of the German Association for Financial Analysis and Asset Management (DVFA) were included in reporting for the first time.
Alongside its economic objectives, the group increasingly includes ecological and social aspects aimed at contributing to the sustainable design of products and processes in its corporate strategy and control. The goal is to improve anticipation of opportunities and risks via multi-faceted sustainability management and to generate crucial innovation and competitive edges for the tapping of new markets.
SolarWorld Real Value
SolarWorld manufactures and sells solar power solutions and in doing so contributes to a cleaner energy supply worldwide. As the largest solar producer in the United States and Europe, SolarWorld employs about 3,200 people and carries out production in Hillsboro, Ore., and Freiberg and Arnstadt, Germany. From the raw material silicon to solar wafers, cells and panels, SolarWorld manages all stages of production ‒ including its own research and development. The company maintains high social standards at all locations across the globe and is committed to resource- and energy-efficient production. Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, SolarWorld was founded in 1998 and has been publicly traded on the stock market since 1999. For more information, visit www.solarworld-usa.com.
Media relations manager
SolarWorld Industries America
4650 Adohr Lane
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