First Solar still off sharply as earnings dissected. Peers rally anyway.

|By:, SA News Editor

With 17 of the 20 analysts covering First Solar (FSLR -11.5%) holding neutral or bearish stances going into the company's Q4 report, little sympathy is being shown in response to a big Q4 miss and soft Q1 guidance.

Goldman (Sell, PT lowered to $42 from $45) continues to see a "lack of upside in First Solar's utility-scale model." The firm points to checks showing a "challenging U.S. growth outlook for large-scale utility projects," mixed performance in emerging markets, and the lack of a near-term yieldco spinoff/IPO for First Solar's solar projects (SunEdison recently filed for one).

Goldman also thinks First Solar's ability to hit a 1:1 book-to-bill at the end of 2013 was accompanied by a mix shift towards lower-margin module orders.

Morgan Stanley is pleased with First Solar's cost-cutting moves, but also thinks investors are counting on "a large degree of profitable international growth," which it considers "highly uncertain." Cowen expects gross margin to be down 450 bps Q/Q, but also notes Q1 guidance "may not be indicative of full-year results."

In spite of First Solar, peers are turning in a strong day (TAN +4.1%). The Street's positive response to SunEdison's Capital Markets Day could be helping.

Notable gainers: SCTY +6.6%. CSIQ +8.4%. DQ +6.9%. JKS +4.2%. JASO +3.5%. ENPH +4.1%.