Sunday, 15 September 2013

Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited Preliminary Results

Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited Preliminary Results

RNS Number : 5917M

28 August 2013

12 months Ended 30 June 2013.
Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd (AIM/ASX: CFU), a leading developer of small-scale electricity generators that use fuel cell technology to convert natural gas into electricity and heat at high efficiency for use in homes and other buildings, today announces its preliminary results for the year ended 30 June 2013.
Operational highlights in the period and year to date:
-- CFCL is successfully selling commercialised products to both commercial and retail customers, directly and through a number of distribution partners.
-- CFCL has focused its sales activities on Germany and the UK in order to take full advantage of the environmental and energy supply policies supported by a range of fiscal incentives in those countries.
-- Due to delays in the formal confirmation of the incentives that were announced in March of this year, there has been a reduction in revenue from FY2012. Revenue for the year was AUD 4.3M (GBP 2.6M).
-- The primary focus in the last year has been to concentrate on the key European markets, to continue to deliver our units and maximize revenue and cash flow. The number of units sold in this year was 147 compared with 169 in FY 2012.
   --        In excess of 380 units have now been sold. 
-- With the formal confirmation of the fiscal incentives in the European market and subsequently an ongoing build up of our sales and marketing resources we remain confident of a substantive increase in unit sales in the coming financial year. It will be necessary to continue to increase our revenue in order to fund the continuing operating costs. The company is addressing this issue by reviewing its pricing policy as well as rigorous management of the operating costs and is continuing to develop a number of options to secure additional working capital.
Product performance
-- CFCL continues to have the most efficient technology for small-scale power generation. We remain confident that our technology has a significant advantage over other combined heat and power (CHP) products. The products' very high electrical generation efficiency, combined with an impressive overall CHP efficiency, can significantly reduce carbon emissions and can provide greater value to the customer through the reduction in the marginal cost of electricity.
-- Combined total operational hours for our units are now in excess of 3.5 million and they have demonstrated high reliability and electrical efficiency. This has been verified through a number of ongoing independent studies world-wide where the units have been installed in homes, businesses and virtual power plant schemes, particularly in The Netherlands and Germany.
-- The CFCL assembly plant in Heinsberg, Germany, is successfully producing fuel cell stacks, the core component of the product. In addition, the manufacturing capability includes the assembly of complete Gennex fuel cell modules and BlueGen products. The plant is currently able to produce in excess of 160 units per month and capacity is readily scalable to meet future demands with limited investment and production/process reviews.
-- CFCL and its furnace supplier have successfully commissioned a large sintering furnace. Over recent months the unit has proven its ability to satisfy rigorous quality and technical parameters and the significantly increasing number of stacks produced are being used for BlueGen customers. The unit has a current capacity of 14 stacks per week (expandable to 16 with minimal additional expenditure) and, together with additional sintering resources, the plant is able to produce 1,200-1,500 stacks per year utilising current operating regimes.
-- In 2012 CFCL signed a manufacturing agreement for the production of fuel cell components. This was necessary to enable us to secure higher volume manufacturing capability and to achieve the associated cost reduction objectives. We are pleased to report that the relationship is working well and we are receiving high quality components for use in the BlueGen product. Based on this success we are now evaluating the supply of additional components.
-- A major objective of CFCL is to achieve significant cost reductions to ultimately avoid the need for any form of fiscal support. We are continuing to reduce cost by a combination of re-engineering, process improvement and outsourcing of manufacturing to low cost but high quality suppliers. However, the main component of cost reduction will be achieved through higher volume manufacturing and we are currently exploring a number of options with potential supply partners.
-- As previously mentioned, our current focus is on Europe and specifically Germany and the UK. The feed-in tariff formally confirmed at the end of 2012 in the UK and the North Rhine Westphalia (NRW) capital grant announced at the end of March 2013 are important in supporting the initial deployment of our units. In addition, the German CHP law, which is intended to assist in replacing nuclear power by 2020, offers significant opportunities throughout a number of other state governments in Germany. These additional market opportunities will be based on similar market introduction programmes to that of NRW and we are already active in developing them.
Financial Results
Year to 30 June 2013 (unaudited FY13 results)
   --        Net Loss after Tax                     AUD 19.8M (GBP 11.9M) (decrease of 34% from FY12) 
   --        Revenue from Operations         AUD 4.3M (GBP 2.6M) (decrease of 37% from FY12) 
   --        Net Operating cash outflow       AUD 16.7M (GBP 10.0M) (decrease of 32% from FY12) 
   --        Cash balance at 30 June 2013  AUD 10.0M (GBP 6M) 
The Group's total revenue decreased during the year by 37 percent to AUD $4.3M (GBP 2.6M). The major reason for this decrease was a delay in the anticipated NRW funding programme which led to purchasers holding off buying in the 3(rd) quarter of the financial year. This led to a very low number of units sold (9) in that quarter compared to 43 in the 2(nd) quarter and 48 in the 4(th) . The number of units sold during the year was 147 compared to 169 in the prior year.
Cost of sales, service and warranty
The total cost of units sold during the year was AUD 3.6M (GBP 2.1M). The Group's purchasing strategy of higher volumes of components from specialist, lower cost producers has resulted in significant cost reductions in materials.
Service and support costs totaled AUD 1.1M (GBP 0.6M) and covered the costs associated with installation, system monitoring and provision of maintenance support and training.
The Group adopts a conservative position in relation to potential warranty claims and replacement of parts under service contracts. The expense for the year totaled AUD 3.2M (GBP 1.9M) which compares to the prior year charge of AUD 1.4M (GBP 0.9M). This increase is predominantly due to the increase in numbers of units that have been sold and installed as well as an increase in the length of service contracts.
Operating Expenses
Research and Product Development expenses were AUD 7.8M (GBP 4.7M) which is AUD 3.7M (GBP 2.2M) lower than last year. This reflects the restructure of the Group which took place in the 2(nd) quarter of FY13, as does the reduction in expenditure on core research and product development activities, which was AUD 7.4M (GBP 4.4M) compared to AUD 11.2M (GBP 6.7M) in the prior year. Expenditure in relation to intellectual property was AUD 0.44M (GBP 0.26M) which was 20% higher than the prior year's AUD 0.36M (GBP 0.22M) predominantly due to an increase in patenting costs.
General and administration expenses were AUD 11.1M (GBP 6.7M) which is AUD 2.1M (GBP 1.3M) lower than last year and occurred predominantly due to the Group's change in purchasing strategy, outsourcing of manufacturing, process improvements and corporate restructuring.
Sales and marketing costs were AUD 2.4M (GBP 1.4M) which, when the savings from closing Australian business development are offset against the increased cost of strengthening our European resources, are in line with the prior year's expenditure.
Net Loss after Tax Attributable to Members
The net loss for the year after tax was AUD 19.8M (GBP 11.9M), a decrease of AUD 10.4M (GBP 6.3M) over the prior year. A tax refund of AUD 5.2M (GBP 3.1M) was received relating to research and development expenditure incurred during the FY12 year. It is anticipated that a refund will again be received in FY14 for the FY13 year, however, at this time it is too early to provide an indication as to the amount of any claim which may be lodged, or the timing of any such receipt.
The net loss after tax represents a loss of AUD 1.31 cents (GBP 0.79 pence) per share compared to a loss of AUD 2.33 cents (GBP 1.40 pence) in the prior year.
Cash flow
The Group's net cash outflow from operations was AUD 16.7M (GBP 10.0M), which was AUD 7.8M (GBP 4.7M) less than last year. This reduced outflow was primarily due to the abovementioned income tax refund of AUD 5.2M (GBP 3.1M) and the savings in operating costs attributable to the previously mentioned restructure.
Cash inflow from investing activities was AUD 1.7M (GBP 1.0M) compared to an outflow of AUD 0.7M (GBP 0.4M) in the prior year. The inflow was mainly due to the release of a security deposit used to provide a bank guarantee in relation to the grant previously received from the NRW Government in Germany.
Cash inflow from financing activities amounted to AUD 17.8M (GBP 10.7M). This mainly arose from the issues of Equity that raised a net AUD 12.1M (GBP 7.3M) and the issue of Secured Convertible Loan Notes that raised a net AUD 5.9M (GBP 3.6M).
At 30 June 2013 the Group had cash of AUD 10.0M (GBP 6.0M) which was held on deposit with banks.

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