Green Energy Technology Inc (綠能科技), the nation’s biggest solar wafer maker, expects recent price increases to extend into next quarter on improved demand, which will help bring the company’s gross margin back to positive territory, a company executive said yesterday.
That means Green Energy has a good chance to improve its bottom line gradually after reporting annual losses for five years since 2010 due to an overcapacity-driven industrial slump and ongoing antitrust lawsuits in the US and Europe, the executive said.
“We are expecting prices to continue rising at a gradual pace through the fourth quarter, which will boost the company’s revenue and gross margin,” company president Swean Lin (林士源) told reporters. “Next quarter, gross margin is likely to return to positive territory.”
Wafer prices have risen by 1.3 percent over the past six weeks to US$0.83 per unit, approaching the company’s break-even point, Lin said.
Green Energy expects gross margin to improve to minus-5 percent this quarter, dragged by the unprofitable thin-film solar module business, compared with minus-12.2 percent last quarter. The company is phasing out its thin-film solar module business.
Other than better wafer prices, Lin said the company’s ongoing efforts to enhance its manufacturing efficiency and increase exposure to overseas customers, excluding China, are also factors that could boost profitability.
Forty-five percent of its wafer shipments went to the world’s major solar module suppliers, while Chinese customers accounted for 15 percent by shipments and Taiwanese customers made up 40 percent, Green Energy said.
Market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) expects solar wafer prices to climb slightly next month from between US$0.921 and US$0.925 per unit this month, driven by strong demand from China, the US and India.
Green Energy is optimistic about the industry’s outlook for next year, Lin said.
“We expect supply and demand to reach parity next year, given rising end demand [for solar panel installations],” Lin said. “Solar module customers are expanding capacities, while no major capacity expansion from solar wafer companies will occur any time soon.”
Global solar panel installations are expected to grow from 52 gigawatts this year to about 58 gigawatts next year, Lin said.
The US, China, Southeast Asian nations and India will be the main growth drivers, he said.
Green Energy shares yesterday surged 3.04 percent in Taipei trading, compared with the broader market’s 2.06 percent decline, Taiwan Stock Exchange data showed. They closed at NT$13.55 per share, the highest level in about one month.
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