Fierce competition, Indian lull squeeze OEM revenues

WORLDWIDE: Despite healthy order books, manufacturers saw revenues and profits decline amid price pressures and a fall in activity in some key markets.

Good fix… Servicing contracts delivered a boost to some manufacturers’ earnings (pic: GE)
Good fix… Servicing contracts delivered a boost to some manufacturers’ earnings (pic: GE)

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Vestas posted reduced revenues and profits amid "fierce competition" in the wind-power industry. The world’s largest turbine manufacturer’s revenue for the year was €9.95 billion, down 2.8% from €10.23 billion the previous year.

Gross profit fell from €2.12 billion in 2016 to €1.96 billion last year, while operating profit (Ebitda) was €1.65 billion, down 9.3% from €1.82 billion in 2016.

The company ended the year with a free cash flow of €1.21 billion, down from €1.36 billion the previous year.

Vestas described its revenue, earnings and free cash flow as being at "a healthy level, despite highly competitive markets".

CEO Anders Runevad put the reductions down to "fierce competition, price pressure and the continued maturity" of the sector and hailed Vestas’ "strong performance".

The Danish company’s order intake increased from 10.49GW in 2016 to 11.72GW last year, but this generated less revenue — €8.9 billion compared with €9.5 billion the previous year.

Its service order backlog, however, increased by 13.1% year on year, from €10.7 billion to €12.1 billion. The company said it expects earnings from its service division to grow even further in 2018.

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) reported a 29% growth in order intake during the first quarter of its financial year, but lower pricing forced a fall in takings.

Between October and December 2017, the Spanish-German manufacturer said it received 2.2GW of new onshore orders, topped up with a further 576MW of offshore deals. Order intake grew 29.2% year on year, from a total of 2.16GW a year earlier, while the service orders increased 6%.

However, SGRE continues to face falling revenues, although the quarter’s results were in line with expectations.

Group sales, for both wind turbines and servicing, fell 23% to €2.13 billion in the quarter, driven by "pricing and lower sales volume in [onshore turbine]", the company said, as well as a slowdown in construction activity, pricing pressure and a "mix of geographies and project types".

Gross profit for SGRE, which is approaching its first year anniversary of the merger, fell 43% to €249 million.

GE Renewable Energy’s servicing business boosted the unit’s annual revenue to $10.28 billion in 2017, a rise of 14%, with a 15% year-on-year increase in Q4 revenues, reaching $2.86 billion. The whole power group faced a loss for the year.

The company said the strong growth in servicing orders, up 38% year on year in Q4, was reflective of the "strong repower volume" in the US. Equipment orders in the final quarter of 2017 fell 19%.

Across the full financial year, GE Renewable Energy saw revenue up 14%, orders up 1% — to $10.37 billion — and profit grow 26% to $727 million.

GE Power, which produces gas and steam turbines among other power generation equipment, saw its profits fall 45% to €2.8 billion for the year.

This business segment operated below expectations, even excluding the negative impact of charges, the firm said.

The conglomerate had previously announced an $11 billion charge for insurance losses and taxation, forcing it to record a $10 billion loss overall in the fourth quarter.

Indian turbine maker Inox Wind made a loss of INR 461.2 million ($7.2 million) in the third quarter of its financial year amid a downturn in the country’s market triggered by the change from a tariff system to an auction mechanism.

The results marked a small improvement on the INR 468.1 million loss in the second quarter, but was down 143% year on year.

The heavy loss came despite Inox slashing its expenses in Q3 to INR 1.6 billion from INR 10.2 billion a year ago — an 84% reduction year on year.

Inox’s woes had a knock-on effect on its strategic partner, AMSC. The US firm blamed the lack of shipments of electric control systems to Inox for making a net loss of $4.24 million in the third quarter, compared with a loss of $2.76 million for the same period the previous year.

The company’s total revenue for the third quarter of 2017 was $14.93 million, significantly down on the $27.14 million from the same period in 2016.

Suzlon’s revenues rose quarter-on-quarter but still lagged behind figures from the 2017 financial year, the Indian company’s nine-months results showed.

The manufacturer’s revenue of INR 22 billion ($343 million) was up 86% on the previous quarter’s total of INR 11.8 billion, but down by roughly a third on its Q3 performance a year earlier, which reached INR 33 billion.

Similarly, its Ebitda more than doubled from the previous quarter, from INR 1 billion to INR 2.4 billion, but this was down nearly 68% year on year from INR 7.45 billion.

Suzlon’s revenue for the first nine months of the financial year was INR 60.5 billion, down from INR 77 billion a year earlier.

Gross profit fell from INR 34.5 billion to INR 23.4 billion, while Ebitda was down from INR 14.8 billion to INR 8.2 billion.

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