UPDATE 1-Meyer Burger sees 2012 operating loss

Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:30am EST

Related Topics

* Cuts full-year sales target

* Expects to post loss at EBITDA level of 20-40 mln Sfr

* Plans further job cuts to reduce operating costs

* Shares fall 1.9 percent (Adds shares, analyst)

ZURICH, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Swiss solar equipment maker Meyer Burger cut its full-year sales target and predicted a full-year operating loss, blaming challenging conditions in a sector hit by overcapacity and stiff competition.

The maker of production equipment for solar cells said on Wednesday it now expects to achieve sales slightly over 600 million Swiss francs ($637 million), down from the guidance of between 600 million Swiss francs and 800 million francs it gave at its half-year results in August.

Due to lower sales and ongoing restructuring costs it is forecasting an operating loss of approximately 20 to 40 million francs in the fiscal year 2012.

Solar companies in Europe and the United States have grappled with a toxic mix of overcapacity, falling prices, low-cost Asian competition and lower government subsidies on which the industry depends.

Earlier this month German solar group SolarWorld warned a massive decline in prices for solar modules would lead to a wide operating loss this year.

"As witnessed by the third-quarter results of Meyer Burger's customers, the market environment continues to deteriorate," said Vontobel analyst Michael Foeth.

By 0812 GMT Shares in Meyer Burger, which have halved in value this year, were trading down 1.9 percent at 6.60 francs, compared to a 0.4 percent weaker Swiss mid-cap index.

Meyer Burger, which has already shed 19 percent of its workforce since the start of the year, said it would make further cuts to reduce operating costs by approximately 30 million francs as the difficult market conditions drag on.

It plans to cut 50 staff at its German subsidiary Roth and Rau and said capacity adjustment measures could lead to a further 200 job cuts at other locations worldwide. ($1 = 0.9413 Swiss franc) (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)