First Solar Signals Guidance Out to 2016

Jon C. Ogg

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) is hosting its analyst day on Wednesday. We previously noted three drivers behind its 9% gain earlier in the trading day. Now we have a release from First Solar showing mixed guidance for 2014, with stellar guidance for 2015 and initial guidance for 2016 as well.

The outlook for 2014 is for net sales of $3.7 billion to $4.0 billion, versus a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of $3.77 billion. The solar giant put its consolidated gross margin targets in a range of 16% to 18%. The company’s earnings per share target were put in a range of $2.20 to $2.60 per share, versus consensus estimates of $3.21 per share. It was not clear whether there are items in the 2014 earnings guidance.

For 2014, First Solar put its consolidated operating income in a range of $270 million to $320 million. The company also expects to generate between $250 million to $450 million of operating cash flow, as well as approximately $300 million to $350 million in capital expenditures in 2014.

Net sales for 2015 are put in a range of $3.8 billion to $4.3 billion, versus consensus estimates of $4.24 billion. Its earnings per share for 2015 were put between $4.50 to $6.00, compared with consensus estimates of $3.68 per share.

First Solar also issued guidance out to 2016 for revenues of $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion, with earnings per share of $3.50 to $5.00.

First Solar just put operating cash flow in a range of $300 million to $600 million in 2015, and in a range of $800 million to $1.3 billion in 2016.

The three drivers from earlier were as follows: A deal with GE, a new record in PV efficiency and even a tout from Jim Cramer. As of 11:00 a.m. EST, First Solar shares were up close to 12.5% at $64.75 with a 52-week trading range of $25.66 to $65.99.