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Suntech Announces Update to Fourth Quarter 2006 and 2007 Guidance, Amendment to MSK Acquisition Agreement and an Update to its MSK Integration Plan

Posted on 2007-02-02
WUXI, China, Feb 02, 2007 /Xinhua-PRNewswire via COMTEX News Network/ -- Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (NYSE: STP), one of the world's leading manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, announced today an update to its fourth quarter 2006 and 2007 guidance, an amendment to the original agreement for the acquisition of MSK Corporation, which was entered into in August 2006, setting the final purchase price for the remaining stake in MSK at $53 million, and an update on its integration initiatives for the MSK business. For the year 2006, it is estimated that Suntech, including contribution from MSK, shipped around 157.5MW to 159MW, an increase from its original guidance of 130MW to 140MW. For the fourth quarter 2006, Suntech now estimates that its total production output, excluding contributions from MSK, will be in the range of 48MW to 49MW, compared to the original projection of 45MW to 46MW, and its total net revenues, excluding contribution from MSK, will be in the range of $188 million to $192 million, compared to the original projection of $166 million to $170 million. For the fourth quarter 2006, MSK's production output is estimated to be in the range of 6.5MW to 7MW, compared to the original projection of 14MW to 15MW. For the fourth quarter 2006, the revenue contribution from MSK is estimated to be between $30 million to $32 million, compared to the original projection of $60 million to $64 million, with a net loss contribution of between $3 million to $4 million after taking into effect the MSK minority interest. For the first quarter 2007, Suntech currently projects that, including contribution from MSK, its total production output target is in the estimated range of 60MW to 62MW and its total net revenues target is in the estimated range of $220 million to $228 million. Such guidance takes into account the assumption that Suntech's total PV cell production capacity will remain constant at 270MW until the second quarter of 2007 when additional capacity is expected to become operational. In addition, the first quarter 2007 guidance also takes into account the shorter month of February and the Chinese New Year holiday. Suntech has increased its total PV cell production output target in 2007 from 250MW to 280MW. Suntech has also raised its expected 2007 year end PV cell production capacity target from 390MW to 420MW. ''We are very pleased with the results and accomplishments of our core business during 2006 which has increased our projected production output and capacity for 2007,'' said Dr. Zhengrong Shi, Suntech's chairman and CEO. ''We are taking proactive, quick and decisive action to reorient MSK's business to focus on its strengths and reduce its cost structure.'' On February 1, 2007, Suntech, MSK and MSK's remaining shareholders entered into an amendment to the original acquisition agreement. This amendment fixed the consideration payable for Suntech's eventual acquisition of the remaining one-third equity interest of MSK at $53 million. The consideration, payable in the form of Suntech shares based on a price of $29.00 per share, is fixed and is no longer tied to the future performance of MSK's business as stipulated in the original acquisition agreement. Subject to mutual agreement, however, the consideration may be payable in cash. The amendment will accelerate the integration of MSK into Suntech's existing operations, which has already commenced, with the acquisition of the remaining one-third interest in MSK expected to be completed in late 2007. The downward adjustments to MSK's results reflect Suntech's planned rapid integration of MSK's operations and the strict cost-control measures implemented to date. Suntech is in the process of selectively replacing certain high-cost supply arrangements to leverage upon Suntech's superior scale and cost advantages. Starting from February 2007, in order to take advantage of Suntech's low cost manufacturing capabilities and operating experience, MSK has halted production in Japan and will move key production activities to China. These changes have had a net effect of decreases in MSK's actual and expected production output for the fourth quarter of 2006 and in 2007, respectively. Suntech expects MSK's operations will sustain a small net loss in the near term but these changes will result in a more cost effective MSK, which focuses on its core strength, the higher value added BIPV products. MSK will continue to be preserved as a brand and its customer base will continue to be supported. MSK will focus its resources on its core BIPV strength, on continuing to engage in innovative BIPV product development and on increasing its sales and marketing initiatives with a goal to expanding the market reach of its BIPV products in Japan and beyond to other major international PV markets. Recent senior hires and promotions at Suntech America and Suntech Europe were undertaken in large part to expand the sales and marketing activities of MSK's BIPV products. Suntech also plans to extract additional synergies from the acquisition of MSK by aligning the two companies' sales and marketing initiatives, establishing joint sales channels and customer bases, promoting best practices in production and research and development activities, as well as consolidating back office functions. ''Our acquisition of MSK helped us both in terms of accelerating our market expansion plans in Europe, particularly through the combination of Suntech's and MSK's sales and marketing channels within Suntech Europe, and also in terms of leveraging MSK's early mover advantage in the BIPV space by increasing BIPV sales in Japan and other major international PV markets. By taking immediate steps to optimize sales and reduce production costs while maintaining high product quality, we expect to accelerate the integration of MSK's customers, business and manufacturing operations into Suntech's highly successful operations. This will accelerate the cost savings and cross-selling synergies that are the objectives of this acquisition," said Dr. Shi. Suntech will continue to provide MSK fourth quarter 2006 results and related disclosure as part of its 2006 year-end earnings call, but given the accelerated integration between Suntech and MSK's business operations, Suntech will not continue to report separate results or give separate guidance for MSK in the future.
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