GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (GTAT), a U.S. maker of solar manufacturing equipment, reported 20 percent growth in its backlog for polysilicon production systems, the main raw material in solar cells, as sales fell 41 percent in its 2012 fiscal third quarter.
GT Advanced’s polysilicon unit had $1.1 billion in backlogged orders in the quarter ending Dec. 31, the company said in a statement today. That was half of the Merrimack, New Hampshire-based company’s total backlog and the only one of its three segments to grow from the prior quarter.
The backlog for equipment used to make photovoltaic cells and panels shrank 14 percent to $212.1 million as solar companies curtailed production amid a global oversupply. The gains in polysilicon orders show increased demand for the material at the beginning of the solar supply chain, said Amir Rozwadowski, an analyst at Barclays Capital Inc. in New York.
“Select polysilicon producers are focused on continued capacity expansion, despite oversupply in the market, which could bode well for equipment suppliers in the near term,” Rozwadowski wrote in an e-mail today before the earnings report was released.
The company reported $228.9 million in new orders for the quarter, including $218.1 million for polysilicon gear. Customers agreed to buy $900,000 in photovoltaic systems and $10 million in equipment to make industrial sapphires, which are used in energy-efficient light-emitting diodes.
Net income fell 76 percent to $15.3 million, or 12 cents a share, from the same quarter a year earlier. That beat the 8- cent average estimate of 11 analysts compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue fell 42 percent to $153 million.
“We saw continued success in our polysilicon business,” Tom Gutierrez, GT Advanced’s president and chief executive officer, said in the statement. “In PV, while we saw some pockets of improvement, on balance we continue to believe a broad-based turnaround is unlikely in the near to mid-term.”
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