First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) is scheduled to release its next earnings report tonight after closing bell. The solar company’s last earnings report was a big-time positive surprise. So what does the solar power company’s immediate future hold? Investors want to see if tonight’s earnings report provides any clues.

First Solar

What to expect in First Solar’s earnings

On average, analysts are expecting First Solar to post adjusted earnings of 37 cents per share and $30 million in net income. In the same quarter a year ago, the company posted adjusted earnings of 69 cents per share. Analysts are projecting sales of $795.88 million in the quarter, compared to last year’s $520 million in revenue.

In addition to the core numbers, investors and analysts will also be looking at the company’s balance sheet, according to MarketWatch. First Solar should be working on reducing the cost of its solar modules and also improving its efficiency. The company has already been reporting solid progress on the efficiency of its panels. In the first quarter, the average panel efficiency rose by approximately 60 basis points, according to Forbes.

Both First Solar and its competitor SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) are expected to benefit from the subsidies the U.S. has placed on solar panel makers based in China. SunPower posted earnings that were a bit ahead of expectations, although the company missed on margins.

First Solar to update projects

Of course updates on solar projects will also be an important part of tonight’s earnings report. First Solar sees about two-thirds of its revenue from its projects business, according to a post on Forbes. This is rather unfortunate for First Solar because this segment can be pretty volatile due to long development times for projections.

In the near term, First Solar’s earnings may be driven by the construction of some U.S.-based projects. Specifically, the company has been working on the 550 megawatt Topaz and Desert Sunlight projects. Investors will also be looking at whether the company is making progress in expanding overseas. More than half of the company’s reported potential bookings in the first quarter were international. First Solar has been seeing tremendous progress in Chili, securing one power plant contract in Luz del Norte and applying for a second in the Antofagasta area.

First Solar stock remains volatile

Shares of First Solar have been trending downward since the end of June, although they still remain higher since the beginning of the year. In the last 12 months, the company’s stock has risen by about 30%, reports MarketWatch. This year to date, the stock has climbed by approximately 15%. In just the last three months, however, shares have fallen by almost 8%.