The systematic creation of a sales network throughout Europe and the US is paying dividends particularly during the current financial crisis.

The long winter and the international economic crisis resulted in reduced demand for the photovoltaics industry, coupled with a rise in supply. The consequence was price cuts affecting both purchases of cells and sales of solar systems. The one-off write-down of around EUR4 million on the remaining inventories from 2008 at the end of the quarter and, in the meantime, the selling-off of these comparatively high-value inventories meant that CENTROSOLAR’s gross profit was pushed down by one-off factors from EUR14.6 million in the previous year to just EUR6.7 million. The absorption of EUR1.3 million in start-up costs for the planned Itarion solar cell manufacturing plant also diminished the operating result. The operating result at EBITDA level was EUR-6.0 million, as against EUR5.8 million in the prior-year quarter.

The revenue performance in the first quarter, which was particularly weak due the weather, can be rated as positive. The reported loss is attributable to a non-recurring effect. CENTROSOLAR nevertheless remains cautious with its forecasts and believes that full-year revenue will merely be around on a par with the previous year.

CENTROSOLAR has not committed itself through long-term cell purchasing agreements and following the disposal of old stock it will be in a position to exploit a favourable purchasing situation and thus a superior competitive position. It therefore expects to achieve a positive operating result for the current financial year, albeit not on a par with the previous year’s figure.

In-depth talks with potential successors to Qimonda Solar GmbH as the joint venture partner for the Itarion solar cell plant are currently under way. Thanks to the welcome support of our principal suppliers, financial partners and the Portuguese authorities, good progress has been made. A final outcome to the talks is expected in the course of the second quarter.