Market pressures hit revenues despite healthy order books

WORLDWIDE: Fierce competition pushes down revenues and profits for some manufacturers, even as they report record order backlogs. Meanwhile, those doing a large share of their business in Germany saw orders fall as the country's new auction system starts to bite.

Restructuring… Senvion reduced reorganisation costs and increased order intake from new markets
Restructuring… Senvion reduced reorganisation costs and increased order intake from new markets

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Fierce competition drove down Vestas’ profits in the first quarter of 2018, according to CEO Anders Runevad. Vestas posted revenue of €1.69 billion for the quarter — down 10.1% from a year earlier — while its operating profit fell 25% to €225 million. Its gross profit also fell 25% year on year, from €377 million to €281 million.

The Danish firm ended the quarter with an "all-time high" order backlog value, however, with turbines and service agreements worth €21.6 billion — an increase of €1.6 billion year on year.

Vestas maintained its 2018 guidance on revenue of €10-11 billion and total investments worth €500 million, excluding its February acquisition of US energy analysts Utopus Insights.

"The wind energy industry continues to drive down electricity prices and further enable integration of sustainable energy, creating a larger long-term market for wind power solutions," Runevad said. "In the short term, however, this has entailed fierce competition that has impacted profitability in the sector," he added.

Firm and unconditional orders totalled 1,629MW in the first quarter, Vestas stated.

Vestas installed a single-converter wind-solar hybrid and a prototype of its V120-2.0MW turbine, and announced plans to build a hub and nacelle assembly plant in Argentina in the first three months of 2018.

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) won a record amount of onshore of orders in its second quarter — 2.46GW­— a 54% rise year on year, but revenue still fell. SGRE’s Ebit for January-March 2018 totalled €189 million, down 40% year on year, prior to the launch of the merged company.

Net profit was €35 million, offsetting a loss of the same amount in Q1, the firm said.Revenue of €2.24 million was down 29% on the same period in 2017, suggesting continuing pricing pressures on turbines.

In the 2016-17 financial year, SGRE said the average selling price for its onshore turbines fell 13% across the year from €800,000/MW in Q1 2017 to €690,000/MW. In its Q2 2018 report, SGRE said the price had increased slightly to €744,000/MW.

Firm offshore orders totalled 324MW, but the company also has an agreement with Ørsted to supply the 1.39GW Hornsea Project Two site in the UK.

SGRE now has an order book of €22 billion, almost half of which comes from its servicing division. The turbine order book is split into €7.1 billion for offshore and

€4.4 billion for onshore. SGRE said the figures were in line with expectations for the year, set out in November.

Lower onshore turbine sales in the first quarter of 2018 meant revenue for GE Renewable Energy was down 6.8% to $1.64 billion, from $1.76 billion a year earlier.

GE’s order backlog grew 8% compared with Q4 2017, with orders for projects in Ukraine and Brazil secured in Q1.

Overall, the division’s profit increased 10% year on year from $70 million to $77 million.

Lower reorganisation costs and a boost in sales resulted in Senvion’s net loss for Q1 2018 reducing by 42% from €49.3 million to €28.3 million. The Q1 loss in 2017 was due to €32.8 million being required for the closing of factories, Senvion said.

But revenue at the German manufacturer still fell from €392.3 million to €255.6 million, as it had no offshore wind sales this quarter. Senvion’s adjusted Ebitda was down from €21.4 million to just €0.8 million.

Firm onshore turbine orders in Q1 2018 totalled €484 million, up 37% from €353 million in Q1 2017, with orders from new markets growing from €31 million to €267 million in the same period, while German orders fell from €169 million to €45 million.

A low order intake from Germany in 2017 also pushed down Nordex’s Q1 revenue. It fell 24.7% year on year to €487.9 million, from €648.4 million in 2017. Operating profit also dropped, from €51.2 million in Q1 2017 to €20 million this year.

In its service segment, Nordex increased sales 8.2% year on year from €72.8 million to €78.8 million, while project sales fell 29.1% to €409.6 million over the same period.

The company said the declines in sales and Ebitda were mainly due to orders from Germany falling by nearly 22% to 2.74GW in 2017, compared with 3.5GW in 2016.

Nordex’s order intake more than doubled in Q1 2018, however, from €333.3 million in Q4 2017 to €819.9 million a year later.

Goldwind posted year-on-year increases in net profits, revenues and operating profits (Ebit) in its financial results for the first quarter of 2018, but these results were all down from the previous quarter.

The Chinese manufacturer ended Q1 with signed backlogs totalling more than 10GW — up 31.8% year on year — and successful bid orders totalling 6.4GW, the company said, adding that its total external backlog of 16.8GW was a new record.

Goldwind’s Q1 revenue of CNY 3.86 billion ($610 million) was up 7.7% from the

CNY 3.58 billion recorded a year earlier, but down 52.4% from the CNY 8.12 billion in sales from the fourth quarter of 2017.

Net profits were up 32.6% year on year from CNY 181 million to CNY 240 million, but down 68.3% from the CNY 758 million posted in the previous quarter.

Ebit was up 67.5% year on year from CNY 351 million to CNY 588 million, but down 30.1% on Q4 2017 from CNY 842 million.

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