August 7, 2014 / 11:51 AM / in 3 years

UPDATE 2-SMA Solar warns of price pressure after 7th straight quarterly loss

* Q2 EBIT loss 40 mln eur vs 15 mln loss yr-earlier

* CEO says expects high pricing pressure in coming months

* Still expects EBIT loss of up to 45 mln eur this year

* Shares fall 2.4 percent, top loser in TecDAX index (Adds details on inverter pricing, CEO quote, analyst)

By Christoph Steitz

FRANKFURT, Aug 7 (Reuters) - SMA Solar, Germany’s biggest solar group by sales, posted its seventh straight quarterly operating loss and warned on Thursday of high pricing pressure in coming months as it struggles to get back to profitability.

Like others in the sector, SMA has been squeezed by a global glut of solar equipment and dwindling subsidies for solar-generated energy in Europe, driving out of business many who were unable to lower costs as fast as prices fell.

Shares in the company, which only last week lowered its outlook for sales and profit and said it would cut 12 percent of its workforce, were down 2.4 percent by 1132 GMT, the biggest losers in Frankfurt’s technology index at that time.

“Over the past years, we’ve seen a price reduction of more than 10 percent per year,” Chief Executive Pierre-Pascal Urbon told Reuters, adding this was due to fierce competition in Asia as well as in Europe, where demand has plummeted while solar inverter makers fight over less business.

Urbon said he expected high pricing pressure in the industry in coming months.

After hitting makers of solar panels and cells, the price decline in the sector has worked its way through to also hit makers of inverters, a key component needed to feed solar-generated energy into the power grid.

SMA said its second-quarter loss before interest and tax (EBIT) widened to 40 million euros ($53.5 million) from 15 million in the year earlier period. Sales shrank more than a third to 165 million euros and its net loss almost tripled to 28 million.

“Second-quarter results are another sharp disappointment,” Deutsche Bank analyst Alexander Karnick wrote. Deutsche Bank had been expecting a second-quarter EBIT loss of 12 million euros.

SMA shares fell as low as 19.59 euros, not far from a year’s low of 19.20 euros set early this month and a fraction of their all-time high of nearly 107 euros reached in January 2010.

Governments in Europe, where SMA made 43 percent of sales in the first half, have curbed their support to solar power after pumping billions of euros in subsidies into the sector, triggering a boom in solar panel installations across the continent, most notably in Germany.

The company - whose biggest rival is U.S.-based Power-One, acquired by Swiss industrial group ABB last year - reiterated it was expecting full-year sales of between 850 million euros and 950 million and an EBIT loss of up to 45 million.

It expects to become profitable again on an operating level next year, banking on a mix of cost cuts and new products.

1 US dollar = 0.7472 euro Editing by Miral Fahmy and David Holmes

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