MUNICH – Wacker Chemie AG, Munich, cited weakness in the solar-grade silicon and semiconductor wafers markets as reasons for the company’s sales, which dipped to EUR 4.63 billion in 2012, six percent lower than the previous year’s earnings of EUR 4.91 billion. Net income fell to EUR 107 million, EUR 249 million lower than a year earlier (EUR 356 million). EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for 2012 was EUR 787 million compared to EUR 1.1 billion in 2011. Chemical sales for the company grew, with its polymers division generating first-ever sales of over EUR 1 billion in 2012.

During the first two months of 2013, WACKER’s chemical divisions continued to perform soundly. At its polysilicon division, WACKER is currently selling much higher volumes than expected – with prices currently stable at a low level. At Siltronic, there is no indication yet of any fundamental turnaround, as demand for semi-conductor wafers is still weak, and prices are low. In total, WACKER expects 2013’s first-quarter sales to outperform the fourth quarter of 2012, but to fall short of the 2012 first-quarter figure, since polysilicon prices in the first quarter of 2012 were almost twice as high as today.

The company’s President and CEO, Dr. Rudolf Staudigl, noted that, despite current difficulties, the photovoltaics industry presents several positive developments. These include the increased competitiveness of the solar industry compared to other energy sources due to a decline in system prices, the continued growth of the market, and increasing number of solar systems in countries such as China, France, India, Japan, South Africa, the United States, and countries in Southeast Asia.

Looking forward, WACKER forecasts 2013 sales to fall close to its 2012 level, providing that solar-industry trade barrier issues between the European Union and China are resolved and that semiconductor demand picks up. In the chemical divisions, sales and EBITDA are projected to be above 2012 levels. The company expects polymers volumes to rise in 2013, spurred by growth in construction applications in Asia and South America.