Q-Cells pleased with Q3, can't meet demand: CEO

FRANKFURT Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:21am EDT

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Solar cell maker Q-Cells is pleased with third-quarter business amid booming demand in Germany, the world's biggest solar market, its chief executive told Reuters.

"We are running at full capacity and are unable to meet the huge demand," Nedim Cen said in an interview on Thursday at the company headquarters in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, once the hub of the former East Germany's ailing chemicals industry.

"We are quite pleased with the third-quarter," Cen added.

Cuts in solar subsidies had fueled concerns that the German market could suffer a significant setback in the July-September period, but sentiment has brightened as demand continues to be brisk.

The company, which is the world's fourth-largest maker of solar cells, is scheduled to release third-quarter results on November 12.

Cen, who took over as CEO in March after his predecessor Anton Milner stepped down following a 1.4 billion euro ($1.84 billion) net loss last year, also said he expected a stable market environment in the fourth quarter.

Shares in the company, which competes with SolarWorld, First Solar and Suntech, were 1.9 percent higher by 0918 GMT, outperforming the FTSE cleantech index, which was up 0.6 percent.

Cen, who turned 45 this week, said that module and cell prices -- which have fallen rapidly since late 2008 -- were stable.

Cen added Q-Cells had yet to decide on how to refinance a nearly 500 million euro convertible bond which will come due in the first quarter of 2012. Analysts have speculated whether the company may raise fresh equity to help pay down its debt.

"We are looking at all options," Cen said.

Q-Cells, once the world's largest maker of solar cells, was thrown into crisis in late 2008, when a free-fall in cell prices caught the company by surprise and caused it to cut its outlook three times in the space of less than six months.

The company has since cut jobs and sold loss-making helping it to turn its first quarterly net profit in the April-June period since the crisis kicked in late 2008.

Cen said he was also optimistic for the solar market going forward. "I still think that 2011 will be a challenging year. But I'm not that skeptical anymore for the first quarter."

(editing by Knut Engelmann)