According to an estimate, the demand for solar power plants has only marginally improved in many solar markets after the summer months. Contrary to managing board expectations, SMA has established only a minor upturn in the high-volume business of solar inverters for roof systems. Pleasing development in the central inverters business for large-scale solar power plants cannot fully compensate for the weak commercial order situation. The managing board has consequently decided to revise its sales and earnings forecast for the 2011 fiscal year. For 2011, the managing board anticipates a sales range between €1.5 billion and €1.7 billion (previously: €1.5 billion and €1.9 billion) and an EBIT corridor of €220 million to €300 million (previously: €315 million to €475 million).
The subdued demand and weak commercial order situation can be explained by a number of factors. The debate surrounding the expansion of photovoltaic energy has unsettled end-customers just as much as the current euro and debt crisis. Pleasing development in the project business is testament to the current favorable general conditions for the expansion of photovoltaic energy. Investors are currently benefiting from historically low interest rates and a significant reduction in the specific costs of constructing a large-scale solar power plant.
SMA is dependent on the development of global demand and makes its products to order. In order to respond rapidly to the frequent fluctuations in demand in the various market segments, SMA has been using the tactic of employing temporary employees for many years. In view of the current order situation and the weak demand expected during the winter months based on past experience, SMA will be forced to phase out the employment of around 1,000 of its present temporary employees by the end of the year.
For 2012, the managing board expects to see stagnated or moderate growth in global demand for solar power plants. It is currently impossible to give a reliable forecast for 2012 and subsequent fiscal years in view of the manifold influencing factors.
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