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First Solar posts Q4 loss even as revenues double to USD 1.4bn

Image by: First Solar Inc.

February 21 (Renewables Now) - The revenues of US thin-film solar module maker First Solar Inc (NASDAQ:FSLR) jumped in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2019, but an operating loss dragged the company into a net loss of USD 59.4 million (EUR 55m).

First Solar on Thursday reported an operating loss of USD 117.9 million for the October-December quarter, as compared with a profit of USD 11 million in the year-ago period and USD 41.3 million in the preceding quarter. Its total operating expenses in the three months expanded to USD 451.4 million from USD 87.3 million in the last quarter of 2018. Net sales, meanwhile, doubled to USD 1.4 billion thanks to project sales in the US and increased module shipment volumes.

The table below gives more details about First Solar’s financial performance during the period. The non-GAAP results were adjusted to reflect litigation losses and the associated tax effect.

Figures in USD million, except percentages Q4 2019 Q4 2018 2019 2018
Net sales 1,399 691.2 3,063 2,244
Cost of sales 1,066 592.9 2,514 1,852
Gross profit 333.6 98.3 549.2 392.2
Operating costs 451.4 87.3 711 352.1
Operating profit (loss) (117.9) 11 (161.8) 40.1
Net profit (loss) (59.4) 52.1 (114.9) 144.3
Earnings (loss) per share - diluted (0.56) 0.49 (1.09) 1.36
Non-GAAP net profit (loss) -- -- 157.2 --
Non-GAAP earnings (loss) per share -- -- 1.48 --

First Solar’s 2019 net bookings stood at 6.1 GW direct current (DC) at the end of last year. The year-to-date total registered since the beginning of 2020 is 0.7 GW.

CEO Mark Widmar commented on the execution of First Solar’s Series 6 roadmap. “With ongoing improvements in throughput and efficiency across our fleet, strong demand for Series 6, and our pipeline of contracted shipments as far out as 2023, we are well-positioned for the future,” he said.

Cash, restricted cash and marketable securities at end-December stood at USD 2.3 billion, rising from USD 1.6 billion from end-September due to cash from project and module sales and advanced payments for photovoltaic (PV) modules made before the step-down of the US investment tax credit (ITC).

(USD 1.0 = EUR 0.927)

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Veselina Petrova is one of Renewables Now's 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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