- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

FRANKFURT (AP) - German solar technology company Q-Cells SE said Thursday its 2008 net profit rose 28 percent as the growing appetite for renewable energy boosted sales for its solar panels.

Q-Cells _ the world’s largest producer of solar cells _ said its full year net profit rose to euro191 million ($258 million) from euro148 million in 2007.

The company, based in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, said sales rose 46 percent to euro1.3 billion from euro859 million in 2007 and would grow further this year. It did not immediately release complete fourth quarter results.

Q-Cells said its operating profit rose 4 percent, weighed down by costs related to the startup of a new production site in Malaysia. It said that facility should start production in the second quarter of this year.

The company was upbeat about its outlook despite the global economic crisis, as the demand for non-fossil fuel energy is expected to rise sharply in the coming years.

Q-Cells said it foresees sales of euro1.7 billion to euro2 billion in 2009, as demand should pick up, particularly during the second half of the year. It also said it expected a “strong reduction” in costs, which should help its operating profits.

The current “short term economic difficulties notwithstanding, the fundamentals for the sector continue to strengthen and we expect this to be a major driver for demand going forward,” the company said in its release of 2008 results.

Q-Cells said the fundamentals of the solar cell market were strengthened by the world’s ever-increasing energy usage and the need to be environmentally responsible.

“…Once the global economic situation starts to return to normal, the environment will be much more competitive in the future. Q-Cells will focus on overcoming the short term challenges, continuing its growth course and on positioning itself for the longer term developments.”

Alexander Stiehler, an analyst at UniCredit said competitive risks do exist for Q-Cells and that price dumping from Asian competitors was a particular problem. Still, he said demand for the company’s products should increase, especially in 2010.

“Even though the exact timing is unclear, we believe project financing in the solar sector will pick up again in the coming months.”

Overall, he said the company’s results were in line with expectations and he maintained his “Hold” rating and share price target of euro12.

Shares of Q-Cells closed up 8.4 percent at euro11.67 ($15.99) in Frankfurt.


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