First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) Close To Signing Deals With Australian Miners


First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) is close to signing deals with mining companies in Australia to supply its solar technology to help them save on fuel costs. The solar panel maker’s Asia Pacific vice president Jack Curtis told Bloomberg that the company plans to develop 200MW of capacity for the mining industry over the next three years.

First Solar finds alternative ways to maintain growth

The Australian mining industry is focused on cost control as slowing growth in China has lowered demand for Australian resources. First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) is aggressively looking for deals in Australia, South America, India and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. company is slowing shifting its focus from large utility farms to install systems at warehouses and industrial sites as demand for large-scale utility farms slows.

Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Mehdi Hosseini said in a research note that the 100MW TetraSun facility is expected to become operational by the end of this year. TetraSun, which First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) acquired last year, will produce rooftop panels for the Japanese market. Susquehanna Financial Group today discontinued coverage of the stock due to resource reallocation. The research firm has a Neutral rating on the stock with $41 price target.

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First Solar’s full year EPS guidance below consensus

During its analyst meeting on March 19, First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) said it will focus on smaller projects, and increase module production to 1.9GW in 2014 from 1.6GW last year. The company forecasts full year revenue of $3.7 billion to $4 billion, in-line with the consensus of $3.8 billion. First Solar expects gross margins to decline from 26% last year to 16%-18% in 2014. However, its EPS guidance of $2.20-$2.60 was well below the Wall Street consensus of $3.30.

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) aims to improve its thin film module efficiency from 17.2% in 2013 to 19.5% by 2017. Increased efficiency should help the company gain market share. By 2017, the Tempe, Arizona-based company estimates to bring down the system costs from $1.59 to $0.99, and module costs from $0.63 to less than $0.50.

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) shares jumped 1.91% to $69.95 at 12:52 PM EDT on Monday.