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First Solar lifts Q1 net profit, Series 6 demand is strong

Desert Sunlight solar park. Author: U.S. Department of the Interior. License: Creative Commons, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

April 30 (Renewables Now) - First Solar Inc (NASDAQ:FSLR) turned to a first-quarter (Q1) net profit of USD 82.95 million (EUR 68.4m) from a loss in the previous three months thanks to lower tax expense, a rise in sales, improved gross profit and higher other income.

The company’s diluted earnings per share (EPS) came at USD 0.78, against USD 0.09 a year ago and a loss of USD 4.14 in the previous quarter, First Solar said on Thursday.

“Our first quarter earnings and continued bookings momentum provide a positive start to the year,” said CEO Mark Widmar. He added that the improved performance of the company reflects the sale of domestic and international projects, coupled with efficient management of core operating costs.

Net sales in the three months rose to USD 567.3 million from USD 339.2 million in the previous quarter, helped by project sales in India, Japan and the US. These factors, however, were partly offset by decreased third-party module sales.

The following table shows more details about First Solar’s Q1 performance.

Figures in USD Q1 2018 Q1 2017 Q4 2017
Net sales 567.27m 891.79m 339.18m
Total operating expenses 98.53m 92.18m 97.14m
Operating profit (loss) 74.26m (8m) (35.1m)
Net profit (loss) 82.95m 9.13m (432.5m)
Earnings (loss) per diluted share 0.78 0.09 (4.14)
Gross margin (in %) 30.5 9.4 18.3

Year-to-date, First Solar registered net bookings of 3.3 GW in direct current (DC) due to strong demand for its Series 6 production. Just last week, the company unveiled plans for the construction of a 1.2-GW solar module factory in Ohio, expected to become operational in late 2019.

The company’s cash and marketable securities at the end of March fell to USD 2.9 billion from USD 3 billion at end-December due to capital expenditures related to the increased production of the Series 6 products.

Looking ahead, First Solar lowered its net cash forecast for the full year by USD 100 million as it plans to add more Series 6 manufacturing capacity.

The table below shows the updated full-year forecast by the company.

2018 GAAP guidance (in USD, unless specified) Old New
Net sales 2.45bn - 2.65bn Unchanged
Gross margin (in %) 21.5 - 22.5 Unchanged
Operating expenses 400m - 410m Unchanged
Operating income 130m - 180m Unchanged
Earnings per share 1.50 - 1.90 Unchanged
Net cash balance 2.1bn - 2.3bn 2.0bn - 2.2bn
Operating cash flow 100m - 200m 0 - 100m
Capital expenditures 700m - 800m 850m - 950m
Shipments (GW) 2.9 - 3.0 Unchanged

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.825)

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Veselina Petrova is one of SeeNews Renewables most experienced green energy writers. For several years she has been keeping track of game-changing events both large and small projects and across the globe.

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