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Corporate Reports

Panel maker Solarworld to turn corner on sales, but profits still in eclipse

After financial restructuring, struggling German solar firm Solarworld sees a return to higher sales in 2014. A profit, however, is nowhere near in sight which will keep the firm’s massive debt mounting this year.

In 2013, Solarworld's consolidated result before interest and tax (Ebit) showed a loss of 189 million euros ($260 million), an improvement over 2012 in which the German solar panel maker was 620 million euros in the red.

According to Solarworld's 2013 annual report released on Thursday, the struggling company's revenues also fell, down by 25 percent to 456 million euros.

Describing fiscal 2013 as a year of restructuring, Solarworld Chief Executive Frank Asbeck said he expected higher sales in 2014 and a return to profitability in 2015.

Sun sets on German solar industry

Massive overcapacity and strong low-cost competition from Asia have hit German solar firms in recent years, leading to a number of bankruptcies among companies once seen as the global bellwethers of the industry. In 2013, Solarworld only escaped insolvency after investors had agreed to take massive losses on their initial investment in a debt cut that reduced the company's debt pile from 1 billion euros down to 427 million euros.

“Hooray, we are still alive,” CEO Asbeck told the firm's annual news conference, and added that customers had regained confidence in Solarworld and were coming back.

“Global solar markets are set for renewed growth, and with clear positioning, we can share in this growth,” Asbeck said.

For 2014, Solarworld expects revenues of 680 million euros, up from 456 million euros in 2013. The operating result, however, will remain negative, with a loss of between 20 million euros and 35 million euros. A return to profit in its operating business is scheduled for 2015. In 2016, the company hopes to boost sales beyond 1 billion euros.

uhe/dr (dpa, Reuters)

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