Energy Business

First Solar Stuns Investors With Solid Earnings and Guidance

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) reported its fourth-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Tuesday. The company had $1.60 in earnings per share (EPS) on $942 million in revenue. That compared to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.78 in EPS on $929.01 million in revenue. The same period from the previous year had $1.89 in EPS on $1.01 billion in revenue.

Net sales for this quarter decreased slightly from the prior quarter primarily due to lower revenue from the Desert Stateline project, which achieved initial revenue recognition in the third quarter. Additionally, sales of third-party module and module plus offerings decreased.

During the fourth quarter, record annual bookings totaled 3.4GWdc in 2015. Also so far in 2016, bookings are over 160MWdc.

In terms of guidance for the 2016 full year, the company expects to have EPS in the range of $4.00 to $4.50 and revenues in the range of $3.8 billion to $4.0 billion. There are full year consensus estimates of $4.12 in EPS on $3.83 billion in revenue.

Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar, commented on earnings:

We exit 2015 with record annual revenues, record new bookings and earnings per share of over five dollars. 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.

Cash flows from operations totaled $53 million in the fourth quarter. On the books, cash and marketable securities at the end of the fourth quarter remained at $1.8 billion.

Shares of First Solar closed Tuesday down 3.8% at $61.79, with a consensus analyst price target of $74.75 and a 52-week trading range of $40.25 to $72.12. Following the release of the earnings report and after a half-hour trading halt was lifted, the stock was initially up 5.2% at $65.00 in the after-hours trading session.

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