Meyer Burger Technology Ltd recorded in fiscal year 2017 incoming orders of CHF 560.7 million, +23% compared to the previous year (2016: CHF 455.6 million). Order backlog amounted to CHF 343.8 million as of 31 December 2017 or +40% compared to year-end 2016. Net sales rose by 4% to CHF 473.3 million (2016: CHF 453.1 million).
The income statement 2017 includes several adverse effects and one-off extraordinary expenses in a total amount of about CHF 76 million which are mainly in conjunction with the discontinuation of diamond wire production at Diamond Materials Tech ("DMT") in Colorado Springs, inventory provisions, currency translation losses on customer prepayments and trade receivables and the discontinuation of manufacturing activities in Thun which will take place during the course of 2018. EBITDA was CHF 12.4 million (2016: CHF 10.5 million). On an adjusted basis, without adverse effects affecting the income statement above the EBITDA line, the adjusted EBITDA would amount to CHF 46.5 million (2016: comparably adjusted EBITDA of CHF 13.6 million). The net loss for fiscal year 2017 was reduced to CHF -79.3 million (2016: CHF -97.1 million), on an adjusted basis it would be CHF -3.1 million (2016: comparably adjusted net result of CHF -55.3 million).
After the repayment of the straight bond in May 2017 and conversion of CHF 71.3 million of the convertible bond into shares of the company in December 2017, Meyer Burger has a solid balance sheet structure. As of 31 December 2017, the net cash position amounts to CHF 67.6 million (31.12.2016: net debt of CHF 3.4 million) and the equity ratio to 51.7% (31.12.2016: 37.2%).
For fiscal year 2018, the company is targeting to achieve net sales of about CHF 450 - 500 million, with an EBITDA margin of about 10%.
Details on the financial results 2017
In fiscal year 2017, Meyer Burger experienced strong momentum, especially for cell technologies. Due to the continuing strong growth in end installed PV capacity, utilisation rates of existing production lines with many customers were at a high level. This fact and the continuous pressure on prices for solar modules as well as increasing requirements for further module efficiency enhancements have led many customers to order either upgrade technologies or to expand their production capacities.
As a result of this market momentum, Meyer Burger achieved total incoming orders of CHF 560.7 million for fiscal year 2017, an increase of 23% compared to the previous year (2016: CHF 455.6 million). This represents by far the highest level of incoming orders for the past six years. In the Photovoltaics segment, Meyer Burger won a number of large orders, especially in MB PERC/MAiA technologies, Heterojunction technology, SiNA technology and diamond wire saws in a total amount of about CHF 243 million (2016: CHF 146 million). The Specialised Technologies segment also achieved important orders in the various markets that are addressed by this segment.
The order backlog amounted to CHF 343.8 million as at 31 December 2017 (31.12.2016: CHF 244.5 million) and provides a solid starting position for the new fiscal year 2018. The book-to-bill ratio (incoming orders to net sales) was 1.18 (2016: 1.01).
Net sales increased by 4% to CHF 473.3 million (2016: CHF 453.1 million). Adjusted for currency effects and the divestment of the DMT operations, the organic sales growth of the continuing operations amounted to 3%. As expected at the time of publication of the half-year report in August 2017, the second half-year was substantially stronger in terms of net sales (H2: CHF 261.0 million) than the first half-year period (H1: CHF 212.3 million).
Operating income after costs of products and services amounted to CHF 194.8 million (2016: CHF 211.3 million), reflecting a margin of 41.2% (2016: 46.6%). The operating income in 2017 includes several adverse effects, such as currency translation losses on customer prepayments and trade receivables of CHF -14.5 million, inventory provisions mainly in connection with streamlining the product portfolio of CHF -14.4 million, warranty provision for update/replacement of solar modules installed in years 2008-2009 of CHF -3.0 million and the closure of the production site in Minhang/CN of CHF -1.9 million. Adjusted for these adverse effects, the adjusted operating income after costs of products and services would be at CHF 229.2 million and the normalised margin in 2017 would have been 48.4% (2016: comparably adjusted operating income of CHF 206.6 million and normalised margin of 48.3%).
Operating expenses: Meyer Burger completed its cost reduction initiatives in conjunction with the structural programme (announced end of September 2016) by the end of June 2017. The company continued to optimise its costs throughout 2017 by various additional measures, such as the discontinuation of diamond wire production at DMT, closure of the Minhang manufacturing site and the reorganisation of the Thun site. In total, over 240 employment contracts were terminated within the scope of these measures during 2017, resulting in a reduction of 229 FTEs as per 31 December 2017 compared to the previous year. At year-end 2017, Meyer Burger employed 1,276 FTEs (2016: 1,505 FTEs). Due to the strong order intake and the high order backlog, the number of temporary employees was increased from 80 as of year-end 2016 to 175 as of year-end 2017. These additional temporary workers were needed to handle the higher production volumes, mainly at the site in Hohenstein-Ernstthal/DE.
Personnel expenses declined by CHF 14.8 million or 10% to CHF 135.7 million in fiscal year 2017 (2016: CHF 150.5 million). This proves that Meyer Burger has significantly reduced its fixed cost base and has achieved a more flexible organisation. Other operating expenses also declined by an amount of CHF 3.5 million or 7% to CHF 46.7 million (2016: CHF 50.2 million).
EBITDA reached CHF 12.4 million in fiscal year 2017 (2016: CHF 10.5 million). Without the adverse effects mentioned above in section “operating income after costs of products and services”, EBITDA on an adjusted basis amounts to CHF 46.5 million (2016: comparably adjusted EBITDA of CHF 13.6 million).
EBIT amounted to CHF -19.3 million (2016: CHF -44.4 million). The adjusted EBIT would be at CHF +14.8 million (2016: comparably adjusted EBIT of CHF -37.1 million). Depreciation and amortisation came to a total of CHF 31.7 million (2016: CHF 54.9 million).
The financial result, net, was CHF -10.3 million (2016: CHF -20.3 million). Financial expenses in fiscal year 2017 include the interest expenses for the straight bond (redeemed in May 2017) and the convertible bond of CHF -9.5 million (2016: CHF -12.8 million). The valuation of intercompany loans to foreign subsidiaries led to financial income from unrealised positive foreign currency translation effects of CHF +5.7 million (2016: CHF +0.03 million). In addition, there were other unrealised foreign currency translation effects of CHF +1.0 million (2016: CHF -1.3 million), interest expenses for mortgage loans and other interest expenses in a total amount of CHF -1.7 million (2016: CHF -1.9 million), other financial expenses of CHF -6.4 million (2016: CHF -4.6 million) and interest income of CHF +0.6 million (2016: CHF +0.4 million) included.
Extraordinary result: With the divestment of the non-PV related diamond wire production activities to Thermocompact Group for an amount of USD 6 million (CHF 5.9 million) in December 2017 (PV related business already discontinued during the first half-year 2017), Meyer Burger extracted some residual value and cash flow from its previous DMT operations. Under Swiss GAAP FER 30, Meyer Burger had in 2013 offset goodwill resulting from acquisitions against equity. In case of a divestment of an entity, Swiss GAAP FER accounting standards require the recycling of the associated goodwill through the income statement. Accordingly, Meyer Burger had to record an extraordinary non-cash expense of USD 22.5 million (CHF 22.2 million) in connection with the goodwill recycling from this divestment. The net charge of the DMT transaction in the income statement amounted to CHF -18.2 million (2016: CHF -11.9 million). It is important to note however that the goodwill recycling of CHF 22.2 million in 2017 does not affect the company’s equity.
Furthermore, costs in relation to the announced reorganisation and the discontinuation of manufacturing activities at the site in Thun are also included in the extraordinary result. The decision to implement this programme led to extraordinary one-off cash related expenses of CHF 4.7 million for personnel expenses (cash-out will be in 2018) as well as extraordinary one-off non-cash related expenses of CHF 25.9 million for value adjustments on inventories, impairment of the facilities in Thun and impairment on other assets (2016: CHF 0).
Tax expenses were CHF 0.9 million (2016: tax expenses of CHF 20.6 million). Tax expenses in 2017 are related to current income taxes on profits of the period of CHF -2.6 million and deferred income taxes of CHF +1.8 million.
The net result came to CHF -79.3 million (2016: CHF -97.1 million). The net result per share was CHF -0.14 (2016: CHF -0.30). On an adjusted basis, without the adverse effects that influenced the results above the EBITDA line and excluding the one-off items in the extraordinary result, net result would have amounted to CHF -3.1 milliion in fiscal year 2017 (2016: comparably adjusted net result of CHF -55.3 million).
5% straight bond redeemed, CHF 71.3 million of 5.5% convertible bond converted into shares: On the maturity date of 24 May 2017, Meyer Burger redeemed the CHF 130 million 5% straight bond at nominal value. Furthermore a total of CHF 71.3 million of the previously outstanding CHF 100 million 5.5% convertible bond was converted in December 2017 (as a result of the incentive offer to the bondholders and minor additional conversions). Through the repayment of the straight bond in May 2017 and the conversions of the convertible bond in December 2017, liabilities in the company’s balance sheet were reduced by CHF 194.7 million. The equity on the other hand was strengthened by CHF 64.0 million.
Balance sheet: The redemption of the straight bond led to a contraction of the balance sheet total. The balance sheet total was CHF 470.0 million as at 31 December 2017 (31.12.2016: CHF 629.9 million). Cash and cash equivalents declined with the repayment of the CHF 130 million straight bond and was CHF 124.7 million. Inventories were CHF 83.3 million, property, plant and equipment CHF 91.1 million, intangible assets CHF 24.4 million and deferred tax assets CHF 76.9 million.
Total liabilities were CHF 227.0 million, of which trade payables were CHF 30.0 million, customer prepayments CHF 67.1 million, provisions CHF 17.4 million and financial liabilities CHF 57.5 million. Equity was CHF 243.0 million with equity ratio of 51.7% as at 31 December 2017 (31.12.2016: equity of CHF 234.4 million and equity ratio of 37.2%).
Cash flow from operating activities was CHF +12.8 million (2016: CHF +2.6 million). The improvement is mainly due to the reduced cost base.
Cash flow from investing activities amounted to CHF +2.5 million (2016: CHF -9.0 million). The net cash flow from investments into property, plant and equipment was CHF -6.4 million. Proceeds from the sale of the DMT business activities were CHF +5.9 million, and proceeds from the sale of securities (straight bonds) were CHF +3.1 million net.
Cash flow from financing activities was CHF -139.0 million (2016: CHF +151.5 million), mainly due to the repayment of the 5% straight bond in May 2017 and to the purchase of treasury shares and shares of Meyer Burger (Germany) GmbH.
Change in the Board of Directors
The Board of Directors nominated Eric Meurice to be elected as a new member of the Board of Directors at the upcoming Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on 2 May 2018. Mr. Meurice (French citizen, born 1956) was the CEO and Chairman of the management board of ASML Holding NV, a leading provider of manufacturing equipment and technology to the semiconductor industry from 2004 to 2013. Before joining ASML, he was Executive Vice President of Thomson Television, and prior to 2001, he served as head of Dell Computers’ Western, Eastern Europe and of Dell’s EMEA emerging market businesses. He gained extensive technology experience in the semiconductor industry between 1984 and 1994, at Intel and at ITT Semiconductors. Mr. Meurice is an independent non-executive Director of NXP Semiconductors NV, IPG Photonics and Umicore. He earned a Master’s degree in mechanics and energy generation at the Ecole Centrale de Paris, a Master’s degree in Economics from Pantheon-Sorbonne University, Paris, and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Heinz Roth, member of the Board of Directors since 2009 and Prof Dr Konrad Wegener, member of the Board of Directors since 2010, will not stand for re-election at the Annual General Meeting 2018. The Board of Directors would like to thank Heinz Roth and Konrad Wegener for their great commitment and precious contributions to the company. The Board wishes both of them all the best for their personal and professional future.
The long-term positive trend for more efficient solar energy systems will continue and there will be major opportunities ahead in the coming years for innovative companies such as Meyer Burger. In terms of incoming orders, 2018 has started cautiously in January and February (incoming orders of CHF 36.2 million for the first two months). However, based on intensive project discussions with various customers, Meyer Burger expects the order momentum to pick up again during the course of the year. For fiscal year 2018, the company is targeting net sales of between CHF 450 – 500 million and an EBITDA margin of about 10%.