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Centrotherm Eyes North Africa Orders, Sees Long-Term Shares Gain

Centrotherm Photovoltaics AG, a German maker of machines for the solar-power industy, is in talks for contracts in Saudi Arabia and North Africa.

Centrotherm, which has lost 50 percent of its market value this year, is winning orders from “top players” in Taiwan, China and Europe for its Centaurus upgrade package for existing manufacturing lines, said Chief Technology Officer Peter Fath. He expects more orders when upgrade deals become the “working horse” for the next two to three years.

Solar industry share prices are “very favorable” for long-term investment, Fath said today at the Intersolar conference in Munich. “If you invest in the right ones, you will gain, and Centrotherm for sure is one of the right ones,” he said.

Centrotherm shares rose as much as 4.2 percent in Frankfurt after his comments. Shares gained 0.7 percent, to 4.99 euros, at the close.

Solar-cell and panel makers, Centrotherm’s clients, are under pressure after governments in Europe and the U.S. trimmed subsidies, worsening a glut of the devices that has already slashed margins at the top five manufacturers. Centrotherm last month posted a 42.9 million-euro ($54 million) loss before interest and tax in the first three months of 2012 and said it sees no improvement in the first half.

Centrotherm will benefit from fewer competitors as consolidation in the industry speeds up, he said.

“We are not in the mood to make acquisitions,” he said. “We have seen big competitors that have big problems in integrating their acquisitions.”

Meyer Burger Technology Ltd., Europe’s biggest solar-panel equipment maker, took as much as 60 million euros in charges Nov. 8 related to the takeover of German rival Roth & Rau AG.

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