First Solar, Inc. Smashes Earnings Estimates

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First Solar, Inc. released its fourth quarter earnings report after closing bell tonight, posting earnings of $1.60 per share and revenue of $942 million. Analysts had been expecting earnings of 77 cents per share and $929 million in revenue.

First Solar sees sequential declines

First Solar’s net sales were down $329 million from the previous quarter mostly as a result of lower revenue from its Desert Stateline project. The project’s first revenue was recognized in the third quarter. The company also said third-party module and module plus offerings decline in the quarter.

Fourth quarter earnings fell from $3.41 in the previous quarter on the back of lower net sales and gross margins and higher expenses. The company had $1.8 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of the year.

For the full year, net sales were $3.6 billion, while earnings were $5.37 per share. Last year First Solar also saw record annual bookings of 3.4 gigawatts. So far this year, the company has more than 160 megawatts booked.

“We exit 2015 with record annual revenues, record new bookings and earnings per share of over five dollars,” First Solar Chief Executive Officer Jim Hughes said in a statement. “As we look back to the 2015 targets first provided to investors at our Analyst Day nearly three years ago, we recognize that we have achieved the efficiency, cost per watt and earnings targets outlined at that time. We enter 2016 with tremendous technology, a strong pipeline and an ongoing commitment to achieve the long-term objectives we have communicated to our investors.”

First Solar trims guidance

First Solar management said they expect sales of $3.8 billion to $4 billion, compared to the previous guidance of $3.9 billion to $4.1 billion. Despite the cut though, they remain ahead of consensus at $3.83 billion. They also maintained their full-year earnings guidance of $4 to $4.50 per share. They also raised the low end of their gross margin guide from a range of 16% to 18% to between 17% and 18%.

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