UPDATE 1-SMA Solar sees hit from falling subsidies

Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:39am EDT

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FRANKFURT, Sept 26 (Reuters) - SMA Solar, Germany's largest solar company, warned of a plunge in third-quarter sales and earnings, in line with analysts' expectations, as the solar power industry struggles with falling government subsidies.

"The distinct changes in subsidy conditions in important European photovoltaic markets were already having an impact on demand for our inverters in the third quarter," Chief Executive Pierre-Pascal Urbon said on Wednesday.

Third-quarter sales for the July-September period are expected to reach 330-360 million euros ($428-467 million), the group said in presentations to investors, in line with the 352 million euros estimate collated by Thomson Reuters StarMine.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) for the period are seen at 20-35 million euros, in line with the 31 million StarMine projection.

In the same period last year, the group posted sales of 477 million euros and operating earnings of 75 million, but a drop in solar subsidies in key markets including Germany has hit solar groups around the world and led to a string of insolvency filings.

SMA Solar - also the world's largest maker of solar inverters - is scheduled to release third-quarter results for the July-September period on Nov. 8.

At 0820 GMT, shares in the group were down 1.2 percent.

($1 = 0.7715 euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Mark Potter)

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