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How Should Investors Feel About First Solar, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:FSLR) CEO Pay?

Simply Wall St

Mark Widmar became the CEO of First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) in 2016. First, this article will compare CEO compensation with compensation at similar sized companies. Next, we'll consider growth that the business demonstrates. And finally we will reflect on how common stockholders have fared in the last few years, as a secondary measure of performance. The aim of all this is to consider the appropriateness of CEO pay levels.

See our latest analysis for First Solar

How Does Mark Widmar's Compensation Compare With Similar Sized Companies?

According to our data, First Solar, Inc. has a market capitalization of US$5.9b, and paid its CEO total annual compensation worth US$7.0m over the year to December 2018. While we always look at total compensation first, we note that the salary component is less, at US$875k. We further remind readers that the CEO may face performance requirements to receive the non-salary part of the total compensation. We examined companies with market caps from US$4.0b to US$12b, and discovered that the median CEO total compensation of that group was US$6.6m.

That means Mark Widmar receives fairly typical remuneration for the CEO of a company that size. Although this fact alone doesn't tell us a great deal, it becomes more relevant when considered against the business performance.

The graphic below shows how CEO compensation at First Solar has changed from year to year.

NasdaqGS:FSLR CEO Compensation, January 1st 2020

Is First Solar, Inc. Growing?

First Solar, Inc. has increased its earnings per share (EPS) by an average of 31% a year, over the last three years (using a line of best fit). It achieved revenue growth of 24% over the last year.

This demonstrates that the company has been improving recently. A good result. It's also good to see decent revenue growth in the last year, suggesting the business is healthy and growing. Shareholders might be interested in this free visualization of analyst forecasts.

Has First Solar, Inc. Been A Good Investment?

I think that the total shareholder return of 67%, over three years, would leave most First Solar, Inc. shareholders smiling. This strong performance might mean some shareholders don't mind if the CEO were to be paid more than is normal for a company of its size.

In Summary...

Mark Widmar is paid around the same as most CEOs of similar size companies.

Few would be critical of the leadership, since returns have been juicy and earnings per share are moving in the right direction. So one could argue the CEO compensation is quite modest, if you consider company performance! Whatever your view on compensation, you might want to check if insiders are buying or selling First Solar shares (free trial).

Arguably, business quality is much more important than CEO compensation levels. So check out this free list of interesting companies, that have HIGH return on equity and low debt.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned.

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