* Expects total sales to grow by about 25 pct a year
* Banks on global trend to outsource blade production
* Expects to remain independent company
By Christoph Steitz
FRANKFURT, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Wind turbine blade maker TPI Composites aims to increase its sales by a quarter each year for the next few years, its chief executive told Reuters, as demand for wind power around the world continues to escalate.
The U.S. company, which went public in July, is banking on more and more wind turbine makers outsourcing blade production to drive down prices further for a power generation technology that is becoming more competitive with fossil fuels.
Blades account for about a fifth of the overall cost of a turbine, the second-biggest factor after the towers themselves, and TPI expects the share of outsourced blade manufacturing to rise to 59 percent next year from 52 percent in 2013.
“The fundamental trend is for more outsourcing,” Steven Lockard told Reuters, adding that TPI was targeting sales growth of about a quarter a year over the next few years.
For 2016, total sales are expected to come in at $750 million to $760 million, or an increase of 25 percent to 27 percent.
TPI holds a 6 percent share of the global wind blade market and counts four of the top 10 turbine makers - General Electric , Spain’s Gamesa, Germany’s Nordex and Danish market leader Vestas - among its clients.
“Our strategy is to grow and diversify our business, and to grow our revenue, to grow with current customers and with new customers,” Lockard said, adding that TPI was also targeting customers in China, the world’s largest wind power market.
TPI, which had a core earnings (EBITDA) margin of 6.7 percent last year, up from 3.9 percent in 2013, already makes blades in the United States, China, Mexico and Turkey.
Lockard did not specify which markets TPI was considering for potential future production sites.
It biggest global competitor, Danish LM Wind Power with 11 percent of the market, was bought by General Electric Co in October in a $1.65 billion deal, raising the question as to whether TPI would also be targeted.
GE also owns an 8.4 percent stake in TPI through its venture capital division, but Lockard described it as a financial investment, rather than a strategic one, when asked whether GE could buy TPI and combine it with LM Wind Power.
“Our expectation is to remain independent,” Lockard said. (Editing by Tina Bellon and David Clarke)