British solar company PV Crystalox Solar warned on first-half revenues, on the back of order deferrals, and said it could not guarantee achieving planned 2009 volumes, sending its shares down over 20 percent.

Although we have contracts for the supply of 275 megawatt wafers in 2009 as a whole, there is greater uncertainty that our forecast shipment volumes will be achieved, it said in a statement on Friday. The announcement follows a string of reports from German solar industry players this week, showing a sharp fall in first-quarter earnings as the credit crunch dries up the supply of funding that is crucial for the industry.

PV Crystalox, which supplies silicon wafers to solar cell makers, said demand had slowed since the end of March and total shipments for the first half were now expected to be between 90 and 95 megawatts compared to 110 megawatts last year.

First-half sales will be 10 percent lower than the 126 million euros ($171 million) achieved last year, PV Crystalox said on Friday.

In response, broker KBC Peel Hunt reduced its pretax profit forecast for 2009 to 80 million euros from 93 million after the statement, while Arbuthnot said it was likely to lower forecasts by between 5 and 10 percent.

Cazenove slashed its earnings per share estimates to 10.40 euros for 2009 and to 10 euros for 2010.

PV Crystalox's shares were down 16.4 percent at 90.25 pence by 6:55 a.m. EST, making it the biggest faller on the FTSE 250 index for mid-caps.

The analysts at KBC and Arbuthnot highlighted, however, that PV Crystalox is still cheap compared to the sector.

The business remains in good shape (clean balance sheet and low cost operator with blue chip customers) versus the peer group, while the market rating remains at a significant discount, wrote Arbuthnot's David Cunningham.


Weak first-quarter results are also expected from a raft of U.S. listed industry bellwethers next week such as LDK Solar, JA Solar and Suntech.

While Germany's Conergy and Phoenix Solar forecast a pick-up in the second half on Thursday, PV Crystalox said the short-term outlook remained difficult to predict, but that it was well-positioned for the upturn when it arrives.

The mid-term market drivers for the industry remain positive with the U.S. economic stimulus bill providing significant funding for renewable energy projects and with the recent renewed commitment of the EU to meet its 2020 climate change goals.

(Reporting by Lorraine Turner and Victoria Bryan; editing by Mike Nesbit)