First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) Tanks After Announcing Restructuring, Slashing Guidance

Trading on shares of First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) was halted on Wednesday afternoon after the company announced some restructuring initiatives aimed at accelerating its transition to Series 6 module manufacturing. The solar panel maker set forth the initiatives in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission and issued a press release with the details, included updated guidance.

First Solar

First Solar updates guidance

First Solar said it expects to produce about 4 gigawatts of Series 6 solar modules in 2019. The company will be spending 2017 and 2018 converting its current production facilities into Series 6 production lines and phasing out the Series 4 solar modules. Due to the new product roadmap, First Solar is canceling its Series 5 product.

“Following the completion of an internal review process to evaluate the best competitive response to address the current challenging market conditions, we have developed plans that will enable us to more quickly begin production of our Series 6 module,” First Solar Chief Executive Mark Widmar said in a statement. “Although the decision to accelerate our Series 6 roadmap requires a restructuring of our current operations, we expect the transition to Series 6 will enable us to maximize the intrinsic cost advantage of CdTe thin-film technology versus crystalline silicon.”

Due to the Series 6 acceleration, the company plans to cut its workforce. It projects between $500 million and $700 million in restructuring and asset impairment charges associated with the restructuring, including a cash impact of between $70 million and $100 million. Most of the charges are expected to come before the end of this year.

First Solar updates guidance

First Solar also updated its outlook based on the new product roadmap. It left its full-year net sales outlook for 2016 the same at $2.8 billion to $2.9 billion and its gross margin outlook the same at 25.5% to 26%. The company also continues to expect shipments of 2.8 gigawatts to 2.9 gigawatts of modules this year. However, it now expects to post a GAAP loss of $4 to $2 per share for the full year, compared to the previous outlook for GAAP earnings of $2.75 to $2.90 per share.

The solar module manufacturer also now projects GAAP net sales of $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion for 2017 with a gross margin of 12.5% to 14.5%. First Solar expects next year’s GAAP earnings to be between a loss of 10 cents per share and earnings of 45 cents per share for 2017. On a non-GAAP basis, the company now expects to come in between breakeven and earnings of 50 cents per share. It expects to ship between 2.4 gigawatts and 2.6 gigawatts of modules in 2017.

Shares of First Solar tanked after trading resumed, falling by as much as 11.03% to $29.20 following the filing and press release.