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GT Solar International Inc. (SOLR) Reports Q1 Profit; Sales Nearly Quadruple

GT Solar International Inc. (SOLR), a U.S. manufacturer of equipment used in the production of photovoltaic cells, announced first quarter 2009 financial results today after the close. Revenues rose to $57.1 million, an increase of 272% year-over-year compared to $15.4 million. Net income rose to $5.1 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, reversing a loss of $5.0 million, or 4 cents per share, for the same period a year ago. There were no analyst earnings estimates ahead of the earnings release.

“We are pleased with the results for our first quarter of fiscal 2009 for several reasons,” said GT Solar President and CEO Tom Zarrella. “We were able to manage dynamic growth while achieving both gross and operating margins at record high levels. Additionally we increased our investment in R&D and approached completion of our previously announced factory expansion. Our backlog remains strong and we continue to see a robust order pipeline in both of our major product areas. Our balance sheet and cash flow provide us with more than ample capital to fuel our growth objectives.

“Because we supply the global solar power industry with its core equipment and technology, GT Solar has a unique perspective on macro trends and developments. Given that perspective, we believe that the solar power industry is continuing to make additional progress in lowering costs and bringing solar power closer to parity with more conventional energy sources. We therefore remain optimistic about GT Solar’s future and that of the industry as a whole.”

The company issued guidance for Q2 and full-year fiscal 2009. For the next quarter, management expects 12-15 cents EPS on revenues of $120 – $130 million. For 2009, earnings are expected to be 70-75 cents per share on revenues of $600 – $650 million. GT Solar reportedly has a backlog in excess of $1 billion.

On July 24, 2008, shares of SOLR began trading on the Nasdaq after the company accomplished its IPO of 30.3 million shares, priced at $16.50 per share, for net proceeds of $500 million. Shares tumbled almost immediately, trading as low as $9.30 on July 25, as LDK Solar (LDK) announced the cancellation of a major contract with GT Solar on the same day as the IPO. Several class action lawsuits have been lodged against the company on behalf of shareholders.

Shares of SOLR closed at $14.07 today, and have traded in a range of $9.30 – $17.00 since the IPO. Trading has been extremely volatile after hours, with the stock initially registering up to 10% gains, topping out at $15.47 when the earnings news broke at 4:05 pm. By 5:15 pm, during management’s conference call to discuss results, the stock had turned negative, dipping as low as $11.80 on heavy volume. With 147.7 million diluted shares outstanding, SOLR has a market cap of $2.08 billion at today’s closing price.

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