First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) Earnings Preview: Expect Mixed Results

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First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) will report its first quarter results on Tuesday, May 6 after the market close. Analysts polled by FactSet expect the solar company to report 52 cents in adjusted earnings per share on sales of $837 million. First Solar had earned 69 cents a share with $755 million in revenues in the same quarter a year earlier. Deutsche Bank analysts Vishal Shah and Jerimiah Booream-Phelps said in a research note Wednesday that they expect mixed first quarter results on bookings and EPS, but revenues are likely to improve.

Expect First Solar management to highlight 1.1GW of projects in the pipeline

Deutsche Bank expects First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR)’s Q1 revenues to come at $890 million with $0.55 in EPS. The Tempe, Arizona-based company’s own guidance calls for $800-$900 million in revenues and $0.50-$0.60 in earnings. For the current quarter, Deutsche Bank models $898 million in revenues and $0.54 million in EPS, well below the Wall Street consensus of $959 million and $0.61, respectively. For the full year, First Solar forecasts revenues in the range of $3.7-$4 billion and net income of $270-$320 million.

Analysts said their industry checks suggest that activity levels in the U.S. utility-scale solar market is picking up, and First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) is positioned to grab a major chunk of these projects. However, the research firm notes that first quarter bookings were well below the $2 billion annualized guidance. First Solar announced only 52MW of projects in the first three months of this year. Shah and Booream-Phelps expect the company management to highlight 1.1GW of projects in the pipeline that could be converted into bookings in 2014.

First Solar likely have a cost advantage

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) seems to have a cost advantage. The company has maintained its solar panel price almost flat even as Chinese companies have been increasing module prices. First Solar has been bidding on projects assuming total system costs of $1.25-$1.30 per watt. The company is also expanding its business in smaller projects and international markets. Deutsche Bank maintains its Hold rating on the stock with $70 price target.

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) shares gained 2.18% to $68.97 at 12:16 PM EDT on Thursday.

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