First Solar Earnings Boosted by Project Sales

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First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) reported third-quarter 2017 results after markets closed Thursday afternoon. For the quarter, the solar energy company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.95 on revenues of $1.1 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported a net loss of $1.22 on revenues of $688.03 million.Third-quarter results compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $0.84 on revenues of $866.8 million.

Sales growth was the result of the sale of two projects — California Flats and Cuyama — and higher third-party sales. Adjusted EPS excludes restructuring and asset impairment charges of around $1 million. GAAP EPS was reported at $1.95 as well.

Cash and marketable securities at the end of the third quarter increased to $2.7 billion from $2.2 billion in the prior quarter. The increase primarily resulted from cash received from projects sold in the third quarter. Cash flows from operations were $581 million in the third quarter.

First Solar raised fiscal 2017 adjusted EPS guidance from a range of $2.00 to $2.50 to a new range of $2.40 to $2.60 per share and confirmed full-year revenues of $3 to $3.1 billion. The consensus estimates called for EPS of $2.21 on revenues of $3.11 billion.

CEO Mark Widmar said:

Our 4.5GWdc of bookings demonstrates both the robust market demand for our Series 4 and Series 6 module technology, and the acceleration of procurement timing by certain customers. Closing the sale of our California Flats project was also an important milestone toward achieving our financial guidance for the year. While we are pleased with our recent results, we continue to be intently focused on the success of our Series 6 transition.

The company also raised its estimates for adjusted operating income from a range of $170 to $220 million to a new range of $210 to $230 million. Adjusted operating expenses were unchanged at $330 to $340 million. The estimate for operating cash flow was also unchanged at $850 to $950 million.

Investors pushed shares up more than 7% immediately after the report was released, but shares quickly moved to trade around $50.05, up 4.4% from the closing price of $47.92. The stock’s 52-week range is $25.56 to $53.00. The consensus price target is $54.38.

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