PV Book-to-Bill in Q4’10 Remains Above Parity; Ahead of Record Revenues in 2011

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Strong Equipment Backlog Reflects Optimism of Tier 1 PV Producers and New Cycle of Investment in Emerging Thin-Film Technologies

Figure 1. Consolidated PV Book-to-Bill at the End of Q4'10

According to Finlay Colville, Senior Analyst at Solarbuzz, “The latest PV Book-to-Bill figures reflect the ongoing investments across both c-Si and thin-film segments, which are driving strong capacity expansions planned for 2011. Tier 1...

In Q4’10 (ending December 31, 2010), the PV Book-to-Bill posted a three-month average of 1.10, according to the PV Book-to-Bill analysis featured in the Solarbuzz® PV Equipment Quarterly report. Across the entire year, the 12-month average in 2010 reached 1.27 compared to 0.97 for 2009.

According to Finlay Colville, Senior Analyst at Solarbuzz, “The latest PV Book-to-Bill figures reflect the ongoing investments across both c-Si and thin-film segments, which are driving strong capacity expansions planned for 2011. Tier 1 c-Si manufacturers are expanding to reach vertically-integrated GW+ status on the back of still strong order books. Conversely, investments into a-Si/uc-Si and CIGS thin-film technologies represent the continued push by new entrants to find low-cost alternatives to First Solar’s exclusive challenge to c-Si dominance in the market today.”

Working closely with the PV equipment supply-chain, the Solarbuzz PV Book-to-Bill analysis maps out quarterly spending profiles by all PV manufacturers with the relevant bookings and revenues assigned to the appropriate process tool manufacturers.

The Book-to-Bill ratio compares the total amount of orders received to the total amount of product shipped and billed within a given period. It is the ratio of demand to supply in the equipment supply chain. A PV Book-to-Bill ratio of 1.10 for Q4’10 means that US$110 of orders was received by PV equipment suppliers for every US$100 of product shipped.
The consolidated PV Book-to-Bill analysis yields an averaged figure based on industry-wide equipment investments across established and emerging technologies. However, tier 1 cell manufacturer trends can be a more appropriate leading indicator to assess the impact of production equipment used to meet end-market PV demand.

Colville added, “Tier 1 designated c-Si cell and thin-film panel producers satisfied 75% of PV demand during 2010. Equipment supply to this crucial midstream solar cell manufacturing segment highlights the portion of overall PV capacity expansion that is most likely to drive the level and timing of any panel oversupply during 2H’11.”

For the tier 1 segment, the PV Book-to-Bill ratio was higher at 1.39 during Q4’10, with a 12-month average of 1.26. Early indications are that this segment’s Book-to-Bill ratio will dip below parity during Q2’11. This would represent the first sign of capacity expansion slowdown by leading PV producers and the beginning of a downturn in revenues on offer to leading PV equipment suppliers through 2H’11 and 1H’12.

PV Book-to-Bill Updated Quarterly
Photovoltaic capital equipment spending trends can now be tracked clearly by the PV Book-to-Bill, featured within the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report. Added in November 2010, this analysis provides key performance indicators that track quarterly changes in the order books of the global equipment supply chain. The trends across the various Book-to-Bill metrics capture the overall health of PV manufacturing and offer a means of forecasting the size and timing of announced capacity expansion phases. The PV Book-to-Bill figures are updated quarterly, and include data relating to the preceding three-month period. In addition to releasing consolidated updates each quarter, detailed findings will be featured within forthcoming editions of the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report, with the next release due out April 2011. Analysis will also be provided on an ad-hoc basis in support of Solarbuzz PV equipment reporting throughout the year, to better understand key developments and trends impacting strongly on the PV equipment supply chain.

To learn more about the PV Book-to-Bill data or the Solarbuzz PV Equipment Quarterly report, contact us at our seven global locations, email us at contact(at)solarbuzz(dot)com, or call 1.516.625.2452.

About Solarbuzz
Solarbuzz, part of The NPD Group, is a globally recognized market research business focused on solar energy and photovoltaic industries. Since 2001, Solarbuzz has grown its client-base to include many of the largest global PV manufacturers, major investment banks, equipment manufacturers, materials suppliers, hedge fund companies, and a vast range of other multi-nationals. Solarbuzz offers a wide array of reports, including Marketbuzz®, an annual global PV industry report, and Solarbuzz® Quarterly, which details both historical and forecast data on the global PV supply chain. The company’s research also provides annual downstream PV market reports by region for Europe, Asia Pacific and US markets. In addition, Solarbuzz.com is a recognized and respected online resource within the solar industry. For more information, visit http://www.solarbuzz.com or follow us on Twitter at @Solarbuzz.

About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group is the leading provider of reliable and comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries. Today, more than 1,800 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies rely on NPD to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels. NPD helps our clients to identify new business opportunities and guide product development, marketing, sales, merchandising, and other functions. Information is available for the following industry sectors: automotive, beauty, commercial technology, consumer technology, entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, foodservice, home, office supplies, software, sports, toys, and wireless. For more information, contact us or visit http://www.npd.com and http://www.npdgroupblog.com. Follow us on Twitter at @npdtech and @npdgroup.
Solarbuzz and Marketbuzz are registered trademarks of The NPD Group.

Media Contact:
Stacey Voorhees-Harmon
SAVVY Public Relations
Phone: 925-336-9592
E-mail: stacey(at)savvypublicrelations(dot)net

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