MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. (WFR:US), the second-largest U.S. polysilicon maker, fell the most in more than 10 years after posting a first-quarter loss 20 times greater than a year earlier as solar sales lagged.
MEMC fell 25 percent to $2.45 at the close in New York, the most since Sept. 28, 2001. Shares had fallen 18 percent this year through yesterday.
Revenue in the company’s solar energy unit dropped 37 percent to $303.2 million compared with a year earlier, St. Peters, Missouri-based MEMC said in a statement released after the close of regular trading yesterday.
“We expect the market environment to remain challenging throughout 2012,” Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Chatila said yesterday during a conference call with investors. “Price reductions continue, but the rate has declined.”
Prices for polysilicon, the main raw material in solar cells, fell 70 percent in the last year to $23.78 a kilogram as Chinese companies increased production and demand for panels slowed. MEMC announced in December it would fire 20 percent of its workforce and cut production. The unit’s president quit last week.
The company’s net loss for the quarter was $92 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with a $4.5 million loss, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier (WFR:US). The loss was more than the 26-cent average estimate of 11 analysts compiled by Bloomberg.
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