Altair posts $5.9 million loss for quarter |

Altair posts $5.9 million loss for quarter

NNBW staff

Less than two weeks before a Chinese company will take a controlling interest in Altair Nanotechnologies, the Reno company said it lost $5.9 million in the first quarter.

Altair said revenues during the quarter ended March 31 were $2.55 million.

In the comparable quarter a year earlier, the manufacturer of lithium-battery technologies lost $6.1 million on revenues of $1.2 million.

Terry Copeland, president and chief executive officer, said Altair encountered several bumps in the road, including:

* A slowdown in shipments of lithium titanate to Zuhai YinTong Energy and shrinking profit margins on those sales as Altair cut prices to improve its competitive position in China.

* Slower-than-projected sales of Altair batteries to Proterra, a Colorado manufacturer of electric buses that is Altair’s largest transportation-related customer.

* Loss of an $18 million contract to provide a large-scale battery system to an El Salvador utility. The utility, Inversiones Energeticas, S.A. de C.V., cancelled the order because of regulatory issues.

“The loss of the INE contract was frustrating, but we continue to feel that Latin America is a viable market for us,” Copeland said.

He said the company cut its operating expenses by 11 percent during the quarter, mostly by cutting research, sales and marketing and administrative expenses.

Altair, which operates manufacturing facilities in Indiana as well as Reno, employs about 100 people.

Canon Investment Holdings Ltd. of Zhuhai, China, is on track to take a 51 percent interest in Altair on May 17. Canon will invest $57.6 million into publicly held Altair.

Altair plans to use most of the proceeds of the new investment to build a lithium-titanate manufacturing facility in China.

It granted a company affiliated with Canon an exclusive license to manufacture batteries made with Altair materials for the Chinese market.


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