January 26, 2016 / 5:36 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-SMA Solar says last year's recovery better than expected

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BERLIN, Jan 26 (Reuters) - SMA Solar, Germany's largest solar power equipment maker, beat its own targets on sales and earnings last year after a restructuring which returned the business to profitability sooner than expected.

Shares in the world's largest maker of photovoltaic power inverters closed up 2.3 percent shortly after the company released the preliminary figures. It publishes full results on March 30 and will give an outlook at a capital markets day on Jan. 29.

It reported sales of about 1 billion euros ($1.08 billion), compared to a forecast for 925-975 million euros, and earnings before interest and taxation of 30-33 million euros, compared with a target of 10-30 million.

Following years of losses and cost cuts, SMA Solar has emerged from a deep sector crisis that claimed many peers over the past five years.

In November SMA Solar raised its earnings forecast for a third time in the year as it reaps the rewards of its overhaul and strong demand in the United States and Britain.

Chief Executive Pierre-Pascal Urbon said SMA Solar had extended its market leadership in 2015 to account for about 20 percent of global demand for inverters, while cutting 1,400 full-time positions.

"We have effectively lowered fixed costs and increased our financial and operational flexibility with extensive measures. We can therefore better respond to the volatile market development," he said in a statement.

SMA expects to have report a cut in working capital to less than 230 million euros from 251 million a year ago, while raising its net cash to more than 280 million euros from 224 million a year ago.

Source text for Eikon: ($1 = 0.9224 euros) (Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Jonathan Gould, Greg Mahlich)

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