December 18, 2012 / 2:25 PM / in 5 years

GT Advanced forecasts loss on tight financing in solar, LED markets

Dec 18 (Reuters) - GT Advanced Technologies Inc, a maker of solar and LED equipment, said it expects to report a loss for the fourth quarter as its customers struggle with limited access to new capital, sending its shares down 15 percent before the bell.

GT Advanced forecast a loss of 5 cents to 10 cents per share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, marking the company’s first loss since 2008. Analysts had expected a profit of 14 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Asian banks are limiting their exposure to the solar and LED sectors and access to bank capital remains limited, Chief Executive Tom Gutierrez said on a conference call with analysts to discuss the company’s outlook.

The limited liquidity and overcapacity will continue to affect customers, and hence GT Advanced’s financial performance, through 2013 and potentially into 2014, he said.

The company, which gets about 95 percent of its revenue by supplying components to solar and LED customers in Asia, has already slashed its workforce by about 25 percent.

“In 2013 we expect to operate as a smaller, leaner yet profitable enterprise,” Gutierrez said.

GT Advanced expects current-quarter revenue of between $95 million and $102 million, below the average market estimate of $146.35 million.

It expects gross margins to be 34 percent to 36 percent in the quarter after taking inventory-related charges of $80 million to $90 million.

The gross margin was 31.8 percent in the third quarter.

The company’s customers, particularly solar companies in China, have been battered by a steep fall in prices for solar equipment and import duties in the United States.

They face the possibility of similar tariffs being imposed in Europe, the biggest market for solar equipment.

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