Etrion Corporation today released its annual consolidated financial statements, related management's discussion and analysis ("MD&A") and annual information form ("AIF") for the year ended December 31, 2016. Etrion also provides an update on its business strategy and announces 2017 guidance for project level revenues, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") and electricity production regarding its operational solar parks in Japan and Chile and fullyfunded project under construction in Japan.
Marco A. Northland, the Company's Chief Executive Officer, commented, "We are all about Japan. Great market, excellent opportunities and very attractive economics. Our decision to double down in this market is paying off. We hired a top senior Hitachi executive as managing director and assigned all corporate resources to Japan. I am also very pleased with our partnership with Hitachi and local financial institutions who continue to play an instrumental role in our continued success. To fund our growth and strengthen our balance sheet, we took advantage of an increased market appetite in Europe and divested from Italy. We received an initial payment of € 78million for the sale and potential earnouts of up to €24 million. Part of the proceeds were used to reduce our corporate debt by 50%. We have exited 2016 with a very strong cash balance, putting us in a great position to accelerate our growth in Japan."
Management believes Japan presents the highest opportunity to create value in a low risk jurisdiction environment. As part of this strategy, the Company successfully completed the divesture of its Italian assets to fund the growth in Japan and reduce its corporate debt.
- Italian assets sale and contingent payment potential: In December 2016, the Group completed the sale of its 60MW Italian solar portfolio to EF Solare Italia, a joint venture owned equally by Enel Green Power S.p.A. and Fondo Italiano per le Infrastrutture. With the closing of this transaction, the Group has fully exited from its business in Italy. The initial cash consideration for the transaction was €78.1 million with potential additional cash earn-out payments of up to €24 million depending on the outcome of certain legal, tax and regulatory proceedings. Nearly half of the earn-out is related to certain tax credits (Tremonti Ambiente). The Group received the first favorable resolution and payment for a small portion of our claim; this outcome has significantly increased the chances to obtain a positive outcome for most of the balance of this earn out within this year. Until the date of disposal, the Italian assets produced approximately 98.8 Gigawatt hours ("GWh") from the Company's disposed solar portfolio comprising 17 solar power plants.
- Japan construction update: On October 20, 2016, the Company's 24.7MW Shizukuishi solar project in northern Japan achieved full commercial operation and began collecting revenues from electricity production. The Company is progressing on the construction of the 9.5MW Aomori project and on February, 2017, the first two sites, totaling 5.3MW, were connected to the electricity grid and started producing revenues.
- Japan project development: Successfully completed the development phase of the 9.5MW Aomori and 13.2MW Komatsu solar power projects, both now under construction. In addition, significant advances were made in the development of the Kumamoto project.
- Production Japan: The Company produced approximately 15.2GWh from the Company's 34MW portfolio comprising 6 solar power plants sites in Japan (2015: 5.5GWh) representing an overall production increase of 176% year-over-year.
- Production Chile: The Company produced approximately 159.4GWh from the Company's 70MW solar power plant in Chile (2015: 157.0GWh) representing an overall production increase of 1.5% year-over-year.
- Corporate: Etrion recently announced the appointment of Toshihiro Awata as Managing Director for Japan, further demonstrating the commitment of the Company to accelerate its growth in Japan.
- Revenue from continuing operations: Generated revenues of US$15.2 million (2015: US$10.4 million) during the year ended December 31, 2016, a 46% increase over 2015, from the Company's 104MW portfolio comprising two solar power plants in Japan and one solar plant in Chile.
- Solar segments EBITDA: Generated EBITDA from its solar segments in Japan and Chile of US$6.9 million (2015: US$4.9 million), an approximately 43% increase over 2015.
- Net resultsfrom continuing operations: Generated a net loss of US$110.4 million (2015: net loss of US$27.5million) mainly due to the recognition of an impairment expense of US$75.7 million and a net deferred tax write-off of US$6.9 million, both associated with the 70MW Project Salvador in Chile, partially offset by positive performance and an increase in production from Project Salvador and the solar power plants in Japan.
- Results from discontinued operations: Generated a gain on the sale of its Italian assets of $61.3 million. After transactions costs of $3.1 million, the Group increased its cash position by approximately US$79.5 million as a result of this sale. Including net income of US$7.6 million until the disposal dates, profit from discontinued operation amounted to US$35.9 million.
- Corporate bond: On December 19, 2016, the Company repurchased for cash €40 million principal amount of its outstanding corporate bonds at a price of 100% of par value plus accrued unpaid interest.
- Financing Japan: During 2016 the Company reached financial close for the new two solar projects in Japan, securing approximately US$61 million project finance facilities with Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank to finance the construction of the 9.5MW Aomori project and the 13.2MW Komatsu project.
- Cash and Working Capital: Closed the year ended December 31, 2016 with a cash balance of US$61.2 million, of which US$45.3 million is unrestricted (December 2015: US$52.5 million of which US$17.6 was unrestricted) and positive working capital of US$45.3 million (December 2015: US$1.5 million) mainly due to an increase in cash and a reduction in current debt following the Italian assets sale transaction.
During 2016, Etrion reported a net profit from the Italian discontinued operations of US$35.9 million, compared to a net profit of US$8.7 million in 2015. In addition, Etrion reported a net loss from its continuing operations of US$110.4 million compared to a net loss of US$27.5 million during 2015, mainly due to non-cash total impairment charges of US$82.6 million from the Chilean solar project. Total net loss of the year was US$74.4 million compared to a net loss of US$18.7 million during 2015.
Etrion prepares and updates on a quarterly basis forecasts for project level production, revenues and EBITDA information regarding its operational and fully-funded solar parks. The purpose of these forecasts is to provide investors with management's view on the expected performance of the Company's solar assets over the coming fiscal year. Readers are advised to not place undue reliance on this forecasted financial and operational information. Etrion's consolidated project-level forecast for 2017 is in the following ranges:
Revenue, project-level EBITDA and production forecast for our Japanese business, incorporated in the above consolidated guidance, are based on Etrion's ownership of the Japanese portfolio comprising 43MW from the Mito, Shizukuishi and Aomori solar parks, located in central and northern Japan, respectively, and are incorporated on a net basis. These projects benefit from 20-year power purchase agreements ("PPAs") with the Japanese public utilities, Tokyo Electric Power Company and, in the case of Shizukuishi and Aomori, the Tohoku Electric Power utility, under which they will receive between ¥36 and ¥40 per kWh produced (approximately between US$0.31 and US$0.34 per kWh). Aomori construction-related work began in October 2016, and the solar project is expected to be fully connected to the grid in the third quarter of 2017. For the purpose of this guidance and in accordance with Etrion's accounting policies, production and associated revenue and EBITDA will be recognized from the date every individual solar site is commissioned and starts generating economic benefits. In Japan, revenues are received in Japanese yen and are translated using the ¥/US$ exchange rate of the corresponding period. Consequently, revenues expressed in US dollars may fluctuate according to exchange rate variations.
Revenue, project-level EBITDA and production forecast for our Chilean asset, incorporated in the above consolidated guidance, are based on Etrion's 70%-owned, 70MW operational solar park, Project Salvador, located in northern Chile, and are incorporated on a net basis. Electricity production in Chile assumes curtailments of 15% of the total production capacity of the Project Salvador power plant. Revenue has been calculated using the PPA price of US$0.10 per kWh for the first 70GWh of production and a spot price forecast prepared by independent consultants for the remaining electricity production of Project Salvador. Chilean project-level EBITDA is net of asset management service fees that are recharged to the operating project as part of operational expenses. In Chile, revenues are calculated with reference to the US dollar, which is also the reporting currency of the Group and therefore revenues forecast are not subject to exchange rate fluctuations.
Project economics forecasts
Etrion has forecasted revenue, EBITDA and electricity production at the project level for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2017 based on the assumptions set out below. These forecasts include a financial measure not defined under IFRS, specifically EBITDA. Non-IFRS measures have no standardized meaning prescribed under IFRS and therefore such measures may not be comparable with those used by other companies. Such forecasted financial information provides a financial outlook on the basis and for the year described above, and this information may not be appropriate for any other purposes.