* Q4 EBITDA at polysilicon unit down 53 pct
* Q1 to be diffcult - CFO
* Shares down 1.9 pct
(Recasts with CFO comments, background, updates shares)
By Christoph Steitz and Jens Hack
FRANKFURT/MUNICH, Feb 7 Wacker Chemie
said rising demand in China and the United States had halted a
slide in the price of polysilicon, potentially brining an end to
years of margin declines for a key ingredient needed for making
"It looks as if prices for polysilicon have reached a
floor," Chief Financial Officer Joachim Rauhut said, adding the
world's No.2 maker of polysilicon still had a tough first
quarter ahead of it.
An oversupply of modules and a cut in government subsidies
sent prices for polysilicon plunging by 47 percent in 2012,
causing the group to report a 29 percent drop in core profit
over the same year.
The crisis has forced polysilicon makers - including Wacker
Chemie, sector leader Hemlock Semiconductor and Norway's
Renewable Energy Corp - to review production plans,
reduce working hours or cut jobs.
Western polysilicon makers have also come under pressure
from a trade war in the solar industry, with China launching
anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations into imported
European Union solar-grade polysilicon.
"The pending punitive tariff decision from China's Ministry
of Commerce ... could represent a further downside risk to
earnings for international poly producers," HSBC analyst
Christian Rath said.
Polysilicon is Wacker Chemie's cash cow unit, accounting for
about a quarter of group sales and about 54 percent of earnings
before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in
In the fourth quarter, core profit at the unit more than
halved to 78 million euros ($106 million).
Rival Hemlock Semiconductor is a joint venture between Dow
Corning, Shin-Etsu Handotai and
Other competitors include Korea's OCI Co Ltd and
China's GCL-Poly Energy Holdings.
($1 = 0.7387 euros)
(Editing by Jonathan Gould and David Cowell)