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GT Advanced to Idle Plant, Expects Solar Recovery in 2014

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GT Advanced Technologies Inc., a U.S. supplier of manufacturing equipment for solar and energy-efficient lighting products, plans to sell a factory in St. Louis. The facility is developing high-efficiency solar technology that may not be needed until demand for photovoltaic panels picks up next year.

The company will fire 35 people at the polysilicon plant, according to a statement today. Nashua, New Hampshire-based GT Advanced also said it will scale back its acquisition efforts this year.

A global glut of solar production capacity drove down panel prices 61 percent in the past two years and slowed sales of GT Advanced’s systems. The company is transferring development of a high-efficiency polysilicon technology, HiCz, to a Merrimack, New Hampshire, plant from St. Louis. The systems will be ready this year and Chief Executive Officer Tom Gutierrez expects orders in 2014 when he anticipates solar demand to recover.

“Given current market conditions in the PV industry, orders for the new generation systems may not occur until 2014 when the industry begins to recover,” the company said in the statement.

Idling the plant will save about $15 million annually. The company will incur charges, which weren’t quantified, for the fourth quarter and in the current year for the restructuring.

2013 Forecast

GT Advanced expects 2013 earnings of 25 cents to 45 cents a share, it said Dec. 18. That forecast includes the anticipated savings from the St. Louis plant, according to today’s statement. GT Advanced also expects to take a charge of $80 million to $90 million for the fourth quarter to write down the majority of its inventory of its existing line of polysilicon production systems, known as the DSS family.

David Gray, chief strategy and new business officer, will leave the company Jan. 25 and his position is being eliminated as Gutierrez assumes responsibility for GT Advanced’s reduced acquisition efforts

The new structure will “streamline our operations and align our business with current market and business conditions,” Gutierrez said in the statement.

GT Advanced fell 0.9 percent to $3.41 at the close in New York.

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