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SolarWorld AG with leap in operating profits in 2008


In fiscal year 2008 SolarWorld AG achieved a group-wide increase in profit and sales according to plan. Due to an expansion of production capacity and strong demand both in Germany and abroad, group sales rose by 30.6 per cent or 210.7 million euro to 900.3 (previous year: 689.6) million euro. Operating earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) climbed by 31.1 per cent or 61.9 million euro to 260.8 (previous year: 198.9) million euro. Group profit grew by 31.3 per cent or 35.4 million euro to 148.7 (previous year: 113.3) million euro. This increase was primarily driven by the positive development of business operations, a lower tax burden due to the 2008 corporate tax reform in Germany and the proceeds from the disposal of the 65 per cent stake in Gällivare PhotoVoltaic AB (GPV) of 13.4 million euro.

'Due to the increase in our operating profit we again wish to let our shareholders participate in our business success this year', said Dipl.-Ing. Frank H. Asbeck, CEO of SolarWorld AG. 'The Board of Management and the Supervisory Board will jointly propose therefore an increase in the dividend to 15 euro cents to the Annual General Meeting.'

In fiscal year 2008 the group successfully continued its international expansion. The group-wide share of foreign business grew by 5 percentage points year-on-year to 54 (previous year: 49) per cent. With the commissioning of the group's own ultramodern production facilities in Hillsboro, USA, and South Korea, the group significantly expanded its international market position in the year under review.

Financial flexibility for further international growth of the group

The group continued to expand its solid liquidity: at year-end liquid funds totalled 836.1 (previous year: 792.9) million euro. A high equity ratio of 39.7 (previous year: 40.6) per cent additionally creates a reliable basis for further group growth. 'Due to the sustainable profitability of SolarWorld we are well positioned in an international comparison. Our short- to medium-term growth targets will be implemented as scheduled. At the same time, we intend to preserve a strategic liquidity reserve,' commented CFO Dipl.-Kfm. tech. Philipp Koecke on the company's solid financial position.

SolarWorld AG uses its good credit rating to raise additional outside capital. On 24 March 2009 a consortium loan of 200 million euro was raised. SolarWorld concluded this long-term loan with a consortium comprised of German commercial banks.

The Executive Board expects the group-wide growth to continue in the current year. 'We will retain our pace of growth and continue the approved projects for an expansion of production capacity as scheduled,' said Frank H. Asbeck, CEO of SolarWorld. The Hillsboro site in the USA, opened last year, will thus be further expanded. A new building covering 200,000 sq.m. is to be built for logistics, distribution and production purposes on the premises by the end of November 2009. The surface of the previous building will thus be increased by 44 per cent. SolarWorld is already the largest manufacturer of crystalline solar power technology producing in the USA. By 2011 the Hillsboro site is to reach a capacity of 500 MW and employ around 1,000 people working for SolarWorld. In the USA the group expects further market growth as of 2009 due to the turnaround in the energy sector announced by US President Barack Obama.

'In order to strengthen our competitiveness we will also invest more intensely in research and the development of our powerful SolarWorld brand', said CEO Frank H. Asbeck. From the SolarWorld management's point of view, prices will inevitably fall on the path towards achieving the goal of grid parity. Against this backdrop and assuming that the macroeconomic development will stabilise in the second half of 2009, the Board plans to generate sales over previous year's level with 1 billion euro as next stage's goal.

Integrated annual and sustainability report again obtains A+ rating by the Global Reporting Initiative

In fiscal year 2008 SolarWorld prepared a sustainability report integrated in the consolidated annual report for the second time, applying the international standard of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The report was again rated reporting level A+ since the completeness and accuracy of disclosures was audited externally by an auditing company and in a second instance by GRI. Moreover, the sustainability indicators of the German Association for Financial Analysis and Asset Management (DVFA) were included in reporting for the first time.

Alongside its economic objectives, the group increasingly includes ecological and social aspects aimed at contributing to the sustainable design of products and processes in its corporate strategy and control. The goal is to improve anticipation of opportunities and risks via multi-faceted sustainability management and to generate crucial innovation and competitive edges for the tapping of new markets.

About SolarWorld AG

The SolarWorld AG group of companies (ISIN: DE0005108401) is a world leader in high quality solar power technology. The company is involved at all levels of the solar value chain and combines all activities of the solar industry from silicon as the raw material to turn-key solar power systems. SolarWorld AG is represented in all the world’s solar growth markets. The group is exclusively dedicated to its core business of photovoltaic power generation operating production facilities in Germany, USA and South Korea. They in turn supply the SolarWorld AG sales offices in Germany, Spain, USA, South Africa and Singapore. The central element of the business in addition to the sale of turn-key solar systems and solar modules to the trade is the distribution of solar silicon wafers to the international solar cell industry. Apart from grid-coupled (on-grid) products the SolarWorld Group also sells off-grid solar power solutions that make an important contribution to the sustainable economic development of threshold and developing countries. Under the name Solar2World the group has pooled its ethical commitment to solar power especially in developing countries.

SolarWorld AG employs 2,254 people worldwide. At the stock market the company is listed among others in the technology index TecDAX, in the ÖkoDAX, in the Dow Jones STOXX 600, in the international MSCI index as well as in the sustainability indices DAXglobal Alternative Energy and NAI.

SolarWorld Press contact

SolarWorld AG

Martin-Luther-King-Straße 24
53175 Bonn

Contact Investor Relations: Phone: 0228/55920-470
Contact Press: Phone: 0228/55920-459
Fax: 0228/55920-9470

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