Bloomberg News

MEMC Posts $1.48 Billion Fourth-Quarter Loss as Prices Fall

February 15, 2012

(Updates with comment from analyst in fourth paragraph.)

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., the second-largest U.S. polysilicon maker, posted a fourth-quarter loss 38 percent greater than its market value as the price for the main raw material in solar cells plunged and it had costs related to cutting production and its workforce.

Net loss for the quarter was $1.48 billion, or $6.44 a share, compared with a profit of $12.6 million, or 5 cents, a year earlier, the St. Peters, Missouri-based company said in a statement released after the close of regular trading today. The loss exceeded the $5.90 a share average of 13 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Prices for polysilicon fell 65 percent last year to $26.52 a kilogram at the end of December as Chinese companies increased production while demand slowed for solar panels. The material rebounded 8.6 percent to $28.80 this year through Feb. 6.

The results were “a complete wipeout,” Theodore O’Neill, an analyst at Wunderlich Securities Inc. in New York, said today in an interview. “I think the biggest surprise is that they’re not providing guidance for the first quarter of 2012. You’re sort of left wondering what’s going on.”

MEMC said Dec. 8 it would fire 20 percent of its workforce and cut production, and take a $700 million charge in the fourth quarter.

Excluding the charges, net loss was $48.9 million, or 21 cents a share. Analysts had expected a loss of 7.7 cents, the average of seven estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

MEMC fell 1.5 percent to $4.65 at the close in New York, giving it a market value of about $1.07 billion. The shares climbed 3 percent to $4.79 at 5:29 p.m., after the close of regular trading.

Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., based in Hemlock, Michigan, is the world’s biggest polysilicon producer.

--Editors: Will Wade, Jasmina Kelemen

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Doom in New York at jdoom1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net


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