NIESTETAL, GERMANY: In 2011, SMA Solar Technology AG has maintained its strong position in a very competitive market and recorded the second biggest annual profit in the company’s history.
Thanks to strong international growth and project business, sales amounted to €1.7 billion with an operating profit (EBIT) of €240.3 million. In 2010, a record-breaking year, the company generated €1.9 billion in sales with an operating profit of €516.8 million. In light of this positive trend, the Managing Board and Supervisory Board will propose a dividend payout of €1.30 per share at the Annual General Meeting on May 22, 2012 (2010: €3.00 per share).
The payout ratio of 33.8 percent is the highest since the company’s initial public offering in 2008. SMA pays one of the highest dividends amongst the solar companies listed on the TecDAX.
Despite growing public support for photovoltaics, the rapid growth in demand over the previous years was not evident in 2011. The amount of newly installed global capacity is around 23 gigawatts, which is approximately the same as in 2010. While demand in Germany has remained stable, the foreign markets have seen an uneven growth.
There is strong growth momentum coming from regions such as Southern Europe, North America and India. The regional shift in demand is also changing installation sizes.
As a result, large-scale solar projects have largely compensated for the downturn in new PV rooftop system installations. SMA was able to take advantage of this development thanks to its strong position in foreign markets and its wide range of products for all photovoltaic markets and application areas. The foreign share of total sales increased to 53.6 percent in 2011 (2010: 44.9 percent).
Sales from the project business with Sunny Central inverters grew to €496.4 million, an increase of almost 50 percent. Globally, the company sold inverters with a total combined capacity of 7.6 gigawatts last year (2010: 7.8 GW). According to SMA’s own estimates, this represents a market share of around 33 percent. Thus, SMA remains the global market leader in PV inverters by a wide margin.
In 2012, the company will again invest more than €100 million into R&D to promote technological innovations that lower system costs and facilitate PV grid integration. SMA can continue this investment strategy thanks to its healthy financial situation with an equity ratio of 57 percent (2010: 58%) and almost half a billion euros in liquid assets.
The Managing Board of SMA Solar Technology AG is expecting only moderate growth in the global PV market in 2012, although a slight decline in the market remains a possibility. The Managing Board confirms the annual sales forecast published in early March and predicts €1.2 billion to €1.5 billion in sales and an EBIT margin of between 5 percent and 10 percent in 2012.
“We are currently seeing strong demand for PV rooftop systems. We believe that this demand is mainly a response to the great uncertainty that prevails due to the massive proposed cuts to solar power subsidies in Germany. In contrast, our project business in Germany has experienced a sharp drop in demand since 10 megawatt or higher PV plants will no longer receive subsidies and the planning phase for such plants is significantly longer,” says Pierre-Pascal Urbon, CEO and CFO.
“Given the current level of uncertainty in the German market and massive changes in other European markets, estimating how demand will develop over the rest of the year is almost impossible. However, our forecast for the whole year remains.”
SMA will continue its internationalization strategy outside of Europe and establish foreign companies in Chile and South Africa. The direct export rate is expected to increase to 80 percent in 2012.