Non-Chinese polysilicon producers swing back to positive EBITDA

Polysilicon EBITDA margins of OCI, Wacker and REC Silicon from Q2 2018 through Q2 2019
Despite low prices, OCI, Wacker and REC Silicon returned to black EBITDA figures in the second quarter – Chart: Bernreuter Research

Polysilicon makers OCI (South Korea, Malaysia), Wacker (Germany, USA) and REC Silicon (USA) all returned to black EBITDA figures in the second quarter (Q2). EBITDA margins in Q2 ranged from 6.8% (OCI) to 3.4% (Wacker) to 1.1% (REC Silicon).

The recovery – despite very low polysilicon prices – was due to various reasons:

  • OCI was able to improve the utilization rates both of its Korean and Malaysian plants; the latter completed the ramp-up of its capacity to 27,000 metric tons ahead of schedule at the end of Q1.
  • Wacker achieved a positive EBITDA of €5.7 million in Q2 only thanks to retaining €19 million in advance payments from a solar customer, but the company managed to improve its EBITDA by €41.5 million over the previous quarter by optimizing its production processes.
  • REC Silicon benefited from a slump of the electricity rate for its electronic-grade polysilicon plant in Butte, Montana in Q2 while its solar-grade fluidized bed reactor plant in Moses Lake, Washington was shut down in the middle of May.

EBIT or operating margins, however, were still in red territory for all three manufacturers in Q2: OCI recorded -11.3%, Wacker -44.1% and REC Silicon (including impairment charges) -69.9%.

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