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centrotherm photovoltaics reports strong growth in 2008

Blaubeuren, 31.03.2009

  • Revenue up from EUR 166.2 million to EUR 374.7 million (+125 percent)
  • EBIT (before purchase price allocation) more than doubled to EUR 55.7 million
  • Order backlog of EUR 990.2 million as of December 31, 2008
  • Good start to the 2009 financial year
  • Budgeted growth in 2009 revenue to EUR 500 million to EUR 550 million accompanied by earnings growth

"We are confirming our preliminary results." Oliver M. Albrecht, CFO of centrotherm photovoltaics AG, expressed his satisfaction with the progress of business at the presentation of the 2008 annual report. The revenue of the technology and service provider for the manufacturing of solar silicon and solar cells rose from EUR 166.2 million to EUR 374.7 million. Operating earnings (EBIT) more than doubled to EUR 55.7 million, excluding the effects of purchase prices of acquisitions. Taking these effects into account, EBIT totaled EUR 43.5 million (previous year: EUR 21.1 million). The EBITDA (Earnings before Interests, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization) increased to EUR 57.5 million (previous year: EUR 21.5 million) and EBITDA margin* to 15.3 percent (previous year: 12.9 percent). Excluding acquisition effects (purchase price allocation), the EBIT margin amounted to 14.9 percent (previous year: 12.7 percent), and to around 11.6 percent including these effects.

"We achieved all the growth objectives we had set ourselves for 2008," emphasized Robert M. Hartung, CEO of centrotherm photovoltaics. "However, there are further reasons why last year was a successful one for us, despite the global financial and economic crisis. The acquisition of some specialist providers allowed us to consistently implement our strategy of integrating key equipment and technology into the Group, which secures us access to key technologies, and helps us recruit globally recognized engineering and technology experts."

centrotherm photovoltaics possesses its own integrated research and development for the production of silicon, crystalline solar cells and CIGS thin film modules. All R&D activities across the Group were restructured and bundled in 2008. The intention is to achieve further efficiency enhancements in production as a result of continuous research and development work. Robert M. Hartung went on to comment: "All of our activities, whether acquisitions, the construction of a research and development center in Blaubeuren, or the cooperation ventures with the world's leading photovoltaic research institutes, serve our objective of cutting watt-peak prices, in order to make solar electricity competitive with fossil fuel sources. We took a decisive step to coming closer to this objective in 2008."

Along with the acquisition of various specialty providers, centrotherm photovoltaics also founded international service and sales locations in Taiwan, the USA and Italy during 2008. North America should become one of the largest photovoltaic markets in the future. The economic package in the USA that was approved in early 2009 comprises measures geared to supporting solar projects, among others. China is also becoming increasingly attractive, however. The Chinese Ministry of Finance plans to implement a massive increase in subsidies for photovoltaic plants. By contrast with Europe, the intention is that funds will not be allocated per produced watt, but instead per installed watt, which will make the installation of new plants, in particular, more cost-effective. Thanks to its strong market position in China, centrotherm photovoltaics enjoys good prospects to benefit from these measures, given that the company's customer base includes well-known Chinese solar cell manufacturers.

The order backlog amounted to EUR 990.2 million as of December 31, 2008 (previous year: EUR 462.7 million). Around 20 percent of this backlog is currently in the processing stage. Approximately 60 percent of the orders will be realized in 2009 prospectively, and are consequently effective in terms of revenue and earnings in the current financial year.

Outlook
Oliver M. Albrecht commented as follows: "As a result of our high order backlog, we continue to assume we will achieve significantly double-digit growth in 2009, and we anticipate revenue of EUR 500 million to EUR 550 million despite the difficult market environment. At the same time, we are aiming to further boost our EBITDA." centrotherm photovoltaics currently notes, in particular, investments in technology and equipment for silicon production. Customers are investing now in order to benefit from a long-term positive trend in photovoltaics, given the fact that project lead times run up to 36 months for the creation of a silicon factory. centrotherm photovoltaics also observes positive signals for 2009 and 2010 in the thin film area.

The company achieved a further milestone in silicon production in March 2009, confirming the performance of its silicon reactors with "First Silicon Out". It has successfully started to operate its first polysilicon equipment, and has produced its first silicon, at the production location of Asia Silicon (Qinghai) Co., Ltd. In 2006, centrotherm photovoltaics began to position itself on a broader base by expanding its solar silicon division, which provides technology and services for the production of solar silicon, to become a further core business alongside solar cells.

The 2009 financial year has started well: centrotherm photovoltaics has signed orders from Asia and Europe with a total volume of around EUR 390 million in the first three months of the year.

"Our comfortable liquidity position enables us to finance growth from our own resources," commented Oliver M. Albrecht. "Now and in future, we will continue to focus on making solar energy competitive by exploiting cost-reduction potentials through technology and production process innovations."

* All margins relate to revenue

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The annual report can be downloaded at www.centrotherm.de within the Investor Relations area. 

About centrotherm photovoltaics AG

centrotherm photovoltaics AG, which is based at Blaubeuren, is one of the world's leading technology and service-providers for the manufacturing of solar cells and solar silicon. The broad product spectrum comprises key equipment and turnkey production lines for crystalline and thin-film solar cells. The product range is supplemented by reactors and converters for the manufacturing of solar silicon. centrotherm photovoltaics guarantees its customers important performance parameters such as production capacity, degree of efficacy, and completion deadlines for turnkey lines. The Group employs over 1,000 staff members, and operates in Europe, Asia and the USA. centrotherm photovoltaics achieved revenue in the 2008 financial year of EUR 375 million, EBIT of EUR 56 million (before purchase price allocation), and is listed in the TecDax of the Frankfurt Securities Exchange.

centrotherm photovoltaics AG

Johannes-Schmid-Straße 8
89143 Blaubeuren
www.centrotherm.de

ISIN: DE000A0JMMN2
WKN: A0JMMN
Listing: Regulated Market/Prime Standard, Frankfurt Securities Exchange
Registered Office: Germany

Company Contact:

Saskia Schultz-Ebert
Senior Manager Investor Relations
T +49 7344 918-8890
E-Mail

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Christina Siebels, Grit Pauli
HOSCHKE & CONSORTEN Public Relations GmbH
T +49 40 3690 50-58/-31
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