Why One Analyst Sees First Solar Rising 30%

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First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) shares slid on Tuesday despite the solar firm receiving a couple favorable upgrades from analysts. Even though the share price has dropped off recently, one firm believes that this stock could rise handily from here.

Argus upgraded First Solar to a Buy rating from Hold with a $60 price target, implying upside of 29% from the most recent closing price of $46.40. And on Monday, Goldman Sachs raised First Solar to a Neutral rating from Sell and raised its price target to $46 from $39.

Back in late October, the company reported third-quarter net sales of $676 million, up from $309 million in the second quarter, but down from $1.1 billion a year earlier. The sequential increase reflected ongoing construction at the California Flats project and the sale of the Willow Springs and Manildra projects. The company reported third-quarter earnings of $0.54 per share, compared to a loss of $0.46 per share in the second quarter and earnings of $1.95 per share in the third quarter of last year. The decline from last year reflected fewer solar projects and a decline in module prices.

Argus views First Solar as well positioned in the solar industry based on its positive cash flow, solid balance sheet and focus on cadmium telluride technology, which should provide a cost advantage relative to more commoditized technologies like polysilicon. In particular, First Solar’s technological investments have enabled the company to lower the cost of solar generation on a per-watt basis and to improve its conversion efficiency. They also have helped the company to expand its opportunity set of utility-scale projects.

Overall, Argus noted that the stock trades at 15.5 times its 2019 per-share earnings forecast, in the lower half of the historical average range of 4.5 to 37.7 and below the peer average of 24.9. Investors should expect First Solar’s financial results to be uneven on a quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year basis due to the timing of revenue recognition.

While First Solar has underperformed over the past three months, falling 13%, Argus believes that this pullback offers a favorable entry point.

Shares of First Solar were last seen down 2% at $45.44, in a 52-week range of $36.51 to $81.72. The consensus analyst price target is $65.92.

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