* Adjusted loss/share $0.16 vs estimate $0.15
* Net sales down 14.6 pct to $443.6 mln
* Sees 2nd-qtr semiconductor materials revenue $235 mln-$245 mln
* Shares down 1.5 pct before the bell (Adds outlook, result details, share)
May 9 (Reuters) - Silicon wafer maker MEMC Electronic Materials Inc reported a slightly bigger-than-expected quarterly loss as sales at its solar energy business fell by about 30 percent.
The company’s solar energy business, which designs, installs, finances, and maintains solar power plants for its customers, developed projects with lower pricing in the first quarter. Solar material sales also fell.
MEMC slowed solar project development spending during 2012, after the company, like its peers, was hit by a massive drop in solar panel prices caused by global oversupply and loss of subsidies for solar power in Europe.
The company, on Thursday, however said it expects its solar energy business to report better results later this year due to a recent increase in construction activity.
MEMC, which plans to change its name to SunEdison Inc, launched a business in March to raise capital to build and finance solar power plants.
Higher shipments at the company’s semiconductor materials business, which makes wafers for semiconductor devices, helped dim the effect of lower sales at the solar energy business in the first quarter.
St. Peters, Missouri-based MEMC forecast second-quarter semiconductor materials revenue of between $235 million and $245 million, up from $229.8 million in the first quarter.
The company expects adjusted solar energy systems sales of 29 megawatt (MW) to 54 MW in the current quarter, compared with 45 MW in the first quarter.
Net loss attributable to MEMC shareholders narrowed to $89.4 million, or 40 cents per share, in the first quarter from $98.6 million, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.
Adjusted loss was 16 cents per share. Analysts on average expected a loss of 15 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net sales fell 14.6 percent to $443.6 million, and was above analysts expectation of $423.1 million.
MEMC shares fell 1.5 percent before the bell. Shares of the company, with a market capitalization of $1.23 billion, closed at $5.33 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian and Joyjeet Das)