UPDATE 1-SolarWorld says on track to return to profit

Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:58am EDT

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FRANKFURT/BONN, March 27 (Reuters) - Germany's SolarWorld said on Thursday it was on track to return to profit next year, a sign that the solar panel maker is recovering after a radical restructuring in which Qatar became a shareholder.

SolarWorld and others in the solar power industry have come under pressure from Asian competition as well as weak demand and green energy subsidy cuts by cash-strapped governments.

SMA Solar, Germany's largest solar group by sales and the world's biggest maker of solar inverters, reported its biggest ever annual net loss on Thursday.

"This annual press conference could run under the headline 'Hooray, we're still alive'," Chief Executive Frank Asbeck told journalists after publication of the company's 2013 annual report.

SolarWorld has previously said it expects to return to an operating profit next year, compared with an expected loss of up to 35 million this year. It expects revenues of more than 680 million euros this year and of more than 1 billion in 2016.

"We will do everything to return our company to profitability. The start to 2014 has been a promising one and we are on track," Chief Financial Officer Philipp Koecke said in a statement.

SolarWorld, once Germany's largest solar panel maker by sales, was forced to restructure after generous government subsidies led to a glut of solar equipment, throwing a large number of industry heavyweights, including Q-Cells, Conergy and Solon, into insolvency.

In SolarWorld's restructuring, completed last month, existing shareholders were pushed out as part of a debt-to-equity swap, and Qatar took a 29 percent stake.

Last year, SolarWorld's revenues dropped by a quarter to 455.8 million euros ($628 million), even though shipments were almost the same. Its net loss narrowed to 228.3 million euros from 606.3 million. ($1=0.7254 Euros) (Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt and Anneli Palmen in Bonn; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Jane Merriman)

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