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First Solar (FSLR) Beats Q4 Earnings and Sales Estimates

Zacks Equity Research

First Solar Inc. FSLR reported fourth-quarter 2016 earnings of $1.24 a share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 97 cents by 27.8%. The reported number, however, declined 22.5% from the prior-year figure of $1.60.

For 2016, the company reported a loss of $3.48 per share. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the year was earnings of $4.71. In the year-ago period, First Solar reported earnings of $5.37 per share.
 

Revenues

First Solar’s revenues of $480.4 million in the quarter surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $392 million by 22.6%. Revenues also declined 49% from the year-ago figure of $942.3 million. The decline is primarily attributable to the completion of multiple systems projects during the quarter, partially offset by higher module-only sales.

Full-year revenues came in at $2.95 billion, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.86 billion by 3.1%. However, reported revenues fell 17.5% from the year-ago figure of $3.6 billion.

Operational Highlights

Gross profit in the reported quarter was $63.6 million, down from $231.4 million a year ago.

Total operating expenses increased 732.2% to $829.0 million, due to higher selling, general and administrative expenses. Restructuring and asset impairment costs and production start-up costs largely contributed to the rise.

Operating loss during the quarter was $765.4 million compared to income of $131.8 million in the year-ago quarter.

First Solar, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

 

First Solar, Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise | First Solar, Inc. Quote

Financial Performance

First Solar had $1,347.2 million of cash and cash equivalents as of Dec 31, 2016, up from $1,126.8 million at 2015 end.

Long-term debt was $160.4 million at the end of the fourth quarter, compared with $251.3 million as of Dec 31, 2015.

2017 Guidance

First Solar has increased its revenue guidance to the band of $2.8–$2.9 billion from $2.5–$2.6 billion projected earlier. However, it has lowered the gross margin guidance to the range of 11–13% (12.5–14.5% guided earlier). The company reiterated the operating income guidance in the range of $40–$80 million. Meanwhile, the company has trimmed its operating cash flow guidance to reflect cash outflow of $250–$350 million band, compared to $550–$650 million predicted earlier.

The company reaffirmed its panel shipment projection to the 2.4−2.6 gigawatts (“GW”) band.

Full-year earnings are still expected in a band of a break-even to 50 cents per share.

Quarterly Results at 8point3 Energy

8point3 Energy Partners LP CAFD, a limited partnership formed by First Solar and SunPower Corp. SPWR, reported earnings of $1.27 per share in fiscal 2016 (ended Nov 30, 2016), beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.10.

The partnership reported net income of $4.2 million in the fourth quarter against net loss of $8.6 million in the year-ago period.

An Upcoming Peer Release

Canadian Solar, Inc. CSIQ is expected to release fourth-quarter 2016 results on Mar 9. The company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Zacks Rank

First Solar presently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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First Solar, Inc. (FSLR): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
SunPower Corporation (SPWR): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
8point3 Energy Partners LP (CAFD): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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