Perhaps Seeing a Crack in the IPO Clouds, GT Solar Expands its Offering

GT Solar has evidently spied a few rays of sunshine on the overcast IPO market. In a filing with the SEC yesterday, the Merrimack, NH, maker of equipment for producing photovoltaic solar cells dusted off—and expanded—15-month-old plans to go public. The company now plans to offer 30.3 million shares of common stock at a price between $15.50 and $17.50 per share. At the midpoint of the range and excluding any fees, that would raise a shade under $500 million.

GT Solar plans to trade on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “SOLR.” Founded in 1994 as GT Equipment Technologies, it is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of equipment for making photovoltaic solar cells—equipment that transforms raw polycrystalline silicon or “polysilicon” into pure, flat sheets of single-crystal silicon

In April, GT Solar signed a $91 million contract with The Silicon Mine, a Dutch photovoltaic manufacturer, to supply equipment for the Netherlands’ first solar-grade silicon plants. That would be the first European installation for GT Solar, which sells mostly to Asian manufacturers. South Korea’s DC Chemical placed a $200 million order in March. And last August, GT Solar inked a $171 million deal with China’s Glory Silicon Energy to provide furnaces for silicon-ingot production

According to the new filing, GT Solar had revenues of nearly $47 million in the fiscal year ending in March 2006. Revenues rose to $60 million in 2007, and in the recently ended fiscal year, sales reached $244 million. Last year, the company reported a profit (the only profit shown on the statement, which goes back five years) of $36 million.

The company had filed IPO registration papers last April, announcing plans at the time for an offering of up to $200 million. According to yesterday’s filing, though, the offering could be two and a half times that size. GT Solar itself won’t see any of that cash, however; all the proceeds from the offering will go to its parent company, GT Solar Holdings, which will make a distribution to its shareholders.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and chairman. You can email him at [email protected] Follow @bbuderi

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