ST. PETERS, Mo. (AP) — Shares of solar power equipment maker MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. plunged 25 percent to their lowest level in more than a decade Thursday, a day after the company said it lost $92 million in the first quarter on falling sales.
The global solar power industry has been battered over the last year by oversupply, weak demand and low prices. Many companies have had to sell solar panels at a loss, even as manufacturing costs remain steady or increase.
MEMC Electronic said that its first-quarter revenue was cut by lower volumes and lower prices. The company called the period a "turning point," saying that results appeared to be improving in the second quarter.
"Although solar markets remain challenging, we are restructuring our business to lower costs and improve our competitive position," CEO Ahmad Chatila said in a statement.
Still, the company predicted that semiconductor revenue will fall between 2 percent and 5 percent in 2012 compared to last year, even as it said revenue should be stronger in the second half of 2012 than the first half of the year.
The company said semiconductor revenue should rise 5 percent to 10 percent in the second quarter compared to the first quarter.
During the quarter ended March 31, the company reported a net loss of $92 million, or 40 cents per share, compared to a loss of $4.5 million, or 2 cents per share, in the same period last year.
The company also reported an adjusted loss, excluding one-time items, of 26 cents per share, compared to adjusted income of 9 cents per share in the prior-year period.
Analysts had been expecting a narrower loss of 15 cents per share.
Revenue fell 29 percent to $519.2 million from $735.9 million. Analysts had been expecting $474.2 million in revenue, according to FactSet.
Shares fell 80 cents, or 24.6 percent, to close at $2.45. That's the lowest level the stock has hit since late 2001. Over the last year shares have traded between $3.20 and $11.36.