Wacker Shares Drop as Silicon Doldrums Mar Record Sales Increase

  • German company reports record $5.8 billion revenue in 2015
  • Wacker polysilicon sales weaker as global prices plummet

Wacker Chemie AG plunged by the most in more than four years after a weaker performance by the chemical company’s polysilicon division marred an increase in revenue to a record.

Helped by a weaker euro that makes exports cheaper, Wacker reported sales of 5.3 billion euros ($5.8 billion) in 2015, a 10-percent jump from the previous year, the Munich-based company said Tuesday. The performance masked a drop in revenue in its polysilicon business, which supplies solar panel makers. The shares fell as much as 8.8 percent, the biggest intraday fall since October 2011.

While demand for its specialty chemicals soared, polysilicon sales dipped in the fourth quarter to 240 million euros, 8 percent lower than in 2014. Prices of the material have plunged because of excess inventories and increasing production capacity. The pure form of silicon sold at $13.20 a kilogram on Jan. 25, down 32 percent from a year ago according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data.

Overall, Wacker was able to shrug off the impact as demand for its specialty chemicals “more than compensated for the fact that polysilicon prices were lower and semiconductor wafer volumes were down slightly year over year, Group Chief Executive Rudolf Staudigl said. 

Start-up costs for Wacker’s polysilicon production facility in Charleston, South Carolina, dented the division’s operating profits. While it has since backed out of the deal, the German company brokered a deal with SunEdison Inc. to supply wafers from its Charleston plant. Such ventures have added to overcapacity in the polysilicon industry.

Wacker shares were down 8.2 percent to 59.40 euros shortly after 2 p.m. in Frankfurt, after earlier falling as much as 8.8 percent.

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