First Solar Chief Executive Jim Hughes said on Wednesday that he will step down from the position in June. The announcement was made with the first-quarter results, which reported that the company earned a profit of $171 million, compared to a loss of $61 million a year before.
Widmar to replace Hughes as CEO
Hughes has helped in reorganizing First Solar from a company that primarily made only solar panels into a company that is now a solar farm developer. He has spent four complete years with the company and will leave his executive post on June 30. He will stay on as an advisor and member of the board. Hughes will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Mark Widmar. During a conference call with analysts, Hughes said First Solar was facing significant challenges when he joined the company in early 2012.
“We wanted to restore cost leadership and substantially improve our technology.”
Thanking the rising demand for solar power, Hughes said quarterly revenues are likely to be “less lumpy” in the next four to five years. Demand received a boost after federal lawmakers in December extended a key renewable-energy tax credit for another five years.
First Solar posts strong numbers
For the first quarter, First Solar’s revenue nearly doubled, helping it swing to profit. Quarterly sales, however, missed analysts’ expectations. The solar company reported a profit of $170.6 million or $1.66 a share, versus a loss of $60.9 million or 61 cents a share a year ago. Net sales surged to $848.5 million from $469.2 million a year ago.
First Solar now expects to make $4.10 to $4.50 a share this year, compared to its earlier view of $4 to $4.50 a share. Also the solar firm affirmed its shipments and sales guidance. To take advantage of a federal tax credit extension, First Solar lowered its sales guidance last quarter as it pushed several projects into 2017. The delay will allow it to lower the cost of installation, the company said.
Also last night, Hughes said the North American solar market is unlikely to be affected by last week’s bankruptcy filing by rival SunEdison because over the last six to nine months, SunEdison was not very active in the market.
In premarket trading today, First Solar shares were down 3.74% at $59.71. Year to date, the stock is down by over 7%, while in the last year, it is down by over 2%.