First Solar Shares Defy a Poor Earnings Report

First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) is out with its earnings report for its third quarter. The report is pretty poor, but not so dismal that investors are hitting the panic button again. Net sales fell by $118 million down to $839 million in the quarter "primarily due to project-specific decreases including Silver State North, which was completed in the second quarter, and reduced construction activity at Agua Caliente." Thomson Reuters was calling for $966.5 million in revenues. First Solar went on to say that the decrease was partially offset by initial revenue recognition for the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farms project.

Net income fell to $1.00 per share from $1.27 EPS just in the second quarter and down from $2.25 per share a year ago. Thomson Reuters had estimates of $1.04 EPS. The company said that the quarter was impacted by pretax charges of $24.2 million, or $0.27 against EPS, due to previously announced restructuring actions.

Cash and Marketable Securities at the end of the third quarter were $717 million, down slightly from $744 million at the end of the second quarter of 2012.

For 2012 guidance, First Solar sees net sales of $3.5 to $3.8 billion. This is down from its prior sales target of $3.6 to $3.9 billion and under the $3.72 billion consensus target from Thomson Reuters. The blame here is weather-related disruptions in the supply chain and at certain project sites causing a sales push-out. Guidance on non-GAAP earnings per share are being put at $4.40 to $4.70 EPS versus estimates of $4.43 EPS. Unfortunately, First Solar will have a GAAP EPS loss of -1.60 EPS to -$1.30 EPS based upon restructuring and impairment charges and certain costs in excess of normal warranty expenses.

First Solar also said that its operating cash flows will come in a range of $650 to $850 million versus its prior guidance of $850 to $950 million, again with weather delays to blame.

Shares rose 1.9% to $24.75 against a 52-week trading range of $11.43 to $52.70. As the sentiment is so negative here, the stock is rallying after the report in the after-hours session by almost 5% to $25.98.

Update 4:40 PM EST: Apparently the bears are back in control. Shares are now down over 4% at $23.65 in the after-hours session.

JON C. OGG


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Alternative Energy, Earnings, Earnings Warning, Infrastructure, Utilities Tagged: FSLR

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