First Solar Guidance Lower… Good Enough? (FSLR)

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First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) was halted pending earnings.  The U.S. solar leader reported earnings of $1.26 EPS and $660 million in revenues.  Thomson Reuters had estimates of $1.54 EPS and $781.5 million in revenue.  The GAAP loss was $4.78 for the quarter after items.  The solar player ended the quarter with cash and marketable securities of $788 million.

For all of 2012, the company sees sales at $3.5 to $3.8 billion, down from a prior target of $3.7 to $4.0 billion in sales.  The company is maintaining its earnings guidance of $3.75 to $4.24 EPS. Thomson Reuters has estimates of $4.14 EPS and $3.77 billion in sales.

Also for 2012, the company is reducing operating cash flow from $0.9 to $1.1 billion down to a new lower range of $0.8 to $0.9 billion.

Gross margin in the fourth quarter was 35% and that was down from 46% a year earlier.  Get used to that margin compression by our take based upon the competitive environment that the company referred to.

Shares closed up 0.9% at $36.46 against a 52-week trading range of $29.87 to $163.00.

JON C. OGG

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