Hoku loses $905,000 in quarter


POSTED: Friday, July 31, 2009

Hoku Scientific Inc., which has slowed production at the polysilicon plant it is building in Pocatello, Idaho, said it is still considering several options to raise the additional $106 million to $121 million needed to complete the $390 million facility.

The Honolulu-based company also is exploring a possible merger or sale, with the retention of financial adviser Deutsche Bank Securities - a move it disclosed earlier this month - but said such a transaction was only one method to achieve the necessary financing to complete the plant.

Hoku updated the status of its plant, as well as its solar installation business, while releasing fiscal first-quarter earnings yesterday in which the company swung to a loss of $905,000, or 4 cents a share, from net income of $178,000, or 1 cent a share, a year ago.

Revenue, derived primarily from photovoltaic-system installation and related service contracts, fell 96.6 percent to $74,000 from $2.2 million.

Hoku said it has identified several potentially viable sources of financing that would include prepayments from new polysilicon customers, and one or more debt or equity-financing strategies.

“;Since we have no structured debt on the project, we believe we have quite a bit of flexibility in our approach, and we continue to see a wide spectrum of possible solutions, ranging from debt and equity investments on one end, to strategic merger or acquisition at the other,”; said Dustin Shindo, chairman, president and chief executive of Hoku.

So far, Hoku has $243 million in commitments from its six long-term polysilicon customers, along with $41 million of its own available cash, which brings the total amount in the plant to $284 million.

Of the $243 million, $15 million of that is money that Hoku hopes to receive from Suntech Power, dependent upon the timing of Hoku's completion of certain milestones.





        First-quarter loss


Year-earlier net


Hoku, which implemented the slowdown - but laid off no one - to preserve cash, said it would resume construction and procurement efforts at full pace once it had secured the first $30 million to $50 million of the remaining amount needed.

Polysilicon is the raw material used to make solar panels.

The company also reiterated yesterday that it has developed a plan to purchase trichlorosilane (TCS) from a third-party supplier to support the company's reactor testing and initial production, and that it has flexibility in delivery requirements and can defer costs by operating the plant at an interim capacity of less than 4,000 metric tons per year.

Separately, the company said that its solar installation business during the first quarter completed ground- and roof-mounted photovoltaic installations for Dowling Co. on Maui, and commissioned all seven PV systems installed on Hawaii Department of Transportation facilities throughout the state.

“;In aggregate, these HDOT projects total nearly a megawatt of clean solar power generating capacity and represent the largest collective PV installation to date on Hawaii state government facilities,”; Shindo said.