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Jun. 23, 2015, 1:16 PM
- First Solar (FSLR -0.3%) is supplying 200MW of modules for a Dubai solar park expected to be finished in early 2017. The company claims the deal will make it "the leading PV solutions provider in the Middle East, with a projected installed capacity of at least 270MW across the region by 2017."
- For reference, First Solar produced 540MW of modules in Q1, +6% Q/Q and +22% Y/Y. Expected future module shipments stood at 3.9GW at quarter's end, up 200MW Q/Q.
Jun. 19, 2015, 11:36 AM
- After pricing its 20M-share IPO at the high end of its $19-$21 range, 8point3 Energy (Pending:CAFD) opened at $20.75 and is currently at $20.70, down 1.4%.
- The solar project YieldCo is valued at $1.47B. Given plans for an initial quarterly distribution of $0.2097/share, its forward yield is 4.1%.
- Parents First Solar (FSLR -1.7%) and SunPower (SPWR -2.5%), which respectively own 31.1% and 40.7% post-IPO stakes, are off moderately.
- Prospectus, IPO analysis
- Prior 8point3 coverage
Jun. 19, 2015, 8:15 AM
- 8point3 Energy (Pending:CAFD) has priced its 20M-share IPO at the high end of its $19-$21 range. The solar project YieldCo has raised $420M, and is valued at $1.49B. Shares begin trading today.
- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) will own a 31.1% post-IPO stake in 8point3 (22.2M shares), and SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) a 40.7% stake (28.9M shares). IPO buyers/public investors will own the rest.
- Prospectus, IPO analysis
- Prior 8point3 coverage
Jun. 15, 2015, 11:07 AM
- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) states it has developed a thin-film solar module (in lab tests) that sports an 18.6% aperture-area efficiency, and an 18.2% full-area conversion efficiency. The company adds the latter figure tops a 17.7% record for rival multi-crystalline silicon (c-Si) modules; it's also well above the 17.0% efficiency reported by First Solar for a lab test module in March 2014.
- For reference, First solar had a 14.7% fleet-average Q1 conversion efficiency (+30 bps Q/Q and +120 bps Y/Y), and a 15.6% best-line efficiency (+80 bps Q/Q and +140 bps Y/Y). The company has been gradually narrowing c-Si's historical efficiency lead as c-Si narrows thin-film's historical cost advantage.
- First Solar insists it still has plenty of room to improve thin-film efficiency, while claiming silicon modules "have approached their theoretical efficiency entitlement" (rivals might disagree). In January, First Solar showed off a thin-film research cell sporting a 21.5% efficiency.
- Shares have rallied in the face of a market selloff. Following a rough 2014, they're up 17% YTD.
Jun. 10, 2015, 1:21 PM
- First Solar (FSLR +2.2%) and SunPower's (SPWR +4.6%) 8point3 Energy solar project YieldCo is looking to sell 20M shares at $19-$21 under the symbol CAFD (known to YieldCo and REIT followers as shorthand for cash available for distribution). The IPO underwriters: Goldman, Citi, Deutsche, JPMorgan, HSBC, Baird, MUFG, Mizuho, CLSA, and HSBC. (prospectus)
- At the price range's midpoint, 8point 3 would be valued at $1.02B and reap gross proceeds of $400M; the latter figure rises to $460M if a 3M-share overallotment option is used. Net proceeds will be partly used to make a cash distribution to First Solar and SunPower.
- 8point3 plans to pay an initial quarterly distribution of $0.2097/share; that spells a 4.2% yield at the price range's midpoint. As previously disclosed, 8point3 has an initial portfolio consisting of 432MW of U.S. projects. It also has a right of first offer for 1.14GW of projects owned by First Solar and SunPower, the lion's share of which are in the U.S.
- First Solar and (especially) SunPower are higher on a good day for markets in general, and solar stocks in particular.
Jun. 5, 2015, 1:26 PM
- Solar stocks are doing well (TAN +1.1%) on a quiet morning for equities after JA Solar disclosed a going-private offer from its CEO, and beaten-down Yingli provided mixed Q1 results (revenue beat, EPS missed) and better-than-feared guidance.
- Aside from JA/Yingli, gainers include First Solar (FSLR +3.4%), Canadian Solar (CSIQ +3.6%), JinkoSolar (JKS +4.1%), ReneSola (SOL +10.8%), China Sunergy (CSUN +5.4%), Trina (TSL +3%), Sky Solar (SKYS +2.9%), and Daqo (DQ +4.2%).
- Chinese solar names might also be benefiting from an overnight rally in Shanghai (see Chinese Internet stocks). First Solar, meanwhile, has seen a (questionable) rumor about a Wal-Mart buyout offer surface.
May 26, 2015, 10:15 AM
- "While we are modeling gross margin in line with company expectations provided at the 2014 analyst day, we model flattish revenue growth in 2015 and 2016, compared to the company's previous guidance of 19% growth in 2015 and 2.5% growth in 2016, based on analysis of the company’s backlog and project list" says RBC's Mahesh Sanganeria, downgrading to Underperform and cutting his target by $20 to $34.
- Sanganeria notes standard C-Si solar modules have gradually narrowed the pricing edge held by First Solar's (NASDAQ:FSLR) thin-film modules, and estimates C-Si module production costs will be only $0.02 higher by year's end. "Considering that lower efficiency may incur higher [bill of systems] cost, First Solar may lose its cost advantage for the whole system compared to competitors using multicrystalline silicon technology."
- His 2016 revenue and EPS estimates of $3.4B and $1.37 are well below a Thomson/First Call consensus of $4.04B and $3.40. First Solar has fallen to its lowest levels since February.
Apr. 30, 2015, 5:26 PM
Apr. 30, 2015, 5:13 PM
- Though it missed Q1 estimates, First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) is guiding for Q2 revenue of $750M-$850M and EPS of $0.45-$0.55 vs. a consensus of $779.7M and $0.40.
- The company also announces it's partnering with construction machinery giant Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) to provide integrated solar systems for microgrids in places where reliable grid electricity is lacking. CAT +0.7% AH to $87.50.
- First Solar will "design and manufacture a pre-engineered turnkey package for use in remote microgrid applications, such as small communities and mine sites," and also manufacture Caterpillar-branded panels. Caterpillar will act as the exclusive seller of the solution, which will be paired with related generator sets and energy storage hardware.
- Q1 sales weakness is blamed on the retaining of projects meant for First Solar/SunPower's YieldCo JV, as well as on multiple project delays and a higher mix of module-only sales.
- Potential bookings opportunities rose by 500MW Q/Q to 14GW, and expected future systems/3rd-party module revenue by $300M to $7.6B. Expected module shipments rose by 200MW to 3.9GW. Module production rose 6% Q/Q and 22% Y/Y to 540MW; capacity utilization rose 300 bps Q/Q and 500 bps Y/Y to 87%.
- First Solar's Q1 results, PR, slides (.pdf)
Apr. 30, 2015, 4:59 PM
- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR): Q1 EPS of -$0.62 misses by $0.33.
- Revenue of $469.2M (-50.6% Y/Y) misses by $130.27M.
Apr. 29, 2015, 5:35 PM
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Apr. 15, 2015, 1:42 PM
- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) is among the standouts on a fairly good day for tech stocks in general, and solar stocks in particular. The U.S. solar module/project giant is now up 43% YTD, thanks in part to enthusiasm for its 8Point3 Energy YieldCo JV with SunPower.
- With 8M shares (11% of the float) shorted as of March 31, short-covering could be aiding today's gains. Shares now go for 18x a 2016 EPS consensus of $3.49.
Mar. 25, 2015, 3:41 PM
- A day after posting fresh gains while broader equity markets barely moved, solar stocks are posting steep losses (TAN -4%) amid a 2.2% drop for the Nasdaq.
- Hurting the group's cause: Yingli (down 14.7%) posted a Q4 miss this morning in spite of topping its solar module shipment guidance. ASP declines and a weak euro/yen weighed on the company's top line.
- Chinese firms ReneSola (SOL -7.5%), Daqo (DQ -5.7%), Trina (TSL -4.1%), and JinkoSolar (JKS -3.5%) are among the major decliners. But so are North American firms First Solar (FSLR -3.5%), SunEdison (SUNE -4.2%), Vivint (VSLR -3.8%), and Canadian Solar (CSIQ -3.2%).
- SunEdison announced today it plans to buy 1K vanadium flow batteries (good for over 100MWh) from Imergy Power Systems to store solar electricity produced by Indian minigrid projects. Along with the move, SunEdison is upping its equity stake in Imergy. The move comes shortly after SunEdison announced it's entering the solar/wind battery storage market itself by acquiring assets from private Solar Grid Storage.
Mar. 24, 2015, 2:24 PM
- Buoyed this year by decent Q4 numbers, solid 2015 guidance, and YieldCo news, solar stocks are adding to their gains today even as the Nasdaq barely budges. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN +0.7%) is up 35% YTD and nearing a 52-week high of $47.00.
- Chinese firms are adding to last week's gains - JinkoSolar (JKS +3.7%), ReneSola (SOL +3.3%), Daqo (DQ +4.8%), Trina (TSL +1.9%), JA Solar (JASO +2.7%), and China Sunergy (CSUN +12.5%) stand out. Beijing recently hiked its 2015 solar installation target by 2.8GW to 17.8GW (up from 2014's 14GW), while setting no specific targets for utility vs. distributed solar installations. The lack of utility/distributed targets is expected to make the goal easier to hit.
- U.S. names aren't getting left out: First Solar (FSLR +3.5%) and SolarCity (SCTY +2.1%) are rallying, as are microcaps RGS Energy (RGSE +6.5%) and Solar3D (SLTD +12.7%). Solar3D, a California installer, has risen 58% over the last 4 trading days.
Mar. 10, 2015, 10:02 AM
- Two weeks after announcing they're discussing a joint solar project YieldCo (and seeing their shares soar in response), First Solar (FSLR -1.4%) and SunPower (SPWR -2%) have filed a public S-1 for the JV, known for now as 8point3 Energy Partners. (PR) (prospectus)
- Each company will own a 50% stake. No symbol has been proposed yet; Goldman and Citi will serve as underwriters.
- 8point3 will initially have interests in 432MW of First Solar and SunPower's solar projects; no word yet on initial quarterly cash distributions. At IPO time, the YieldCo will "own interests in six utility-scale solar energy projects, four of which are operational and two of which are in late-stage construction."
- Its initial 432MW asset base will consist entirely of U.S. projects, with most of them in California. They include First Solar's 150MW Solar Gen 2 CA project, and SunPower's 108MW Quinto CA project. 39MW of SunPower residential assets are also thrown in.
- The YieldCo also has right of first offer (ROFO) agreements for 1.13GW of projects, most of which will be finished in the 2015-2016 timeframe. 82% of the projects are in the U.S., 17%, in Chile, and 1% in Japan. 87% are utility-scale, and the rest commercial/residential.
- First Solar and SunPower have joined solar peers in selling off. The Nasdaq is down 1.1%.
- Previously: Analyst commentary on the YieldCo
Feb. 25, 2015, 9:34 AM
- BofA/Merrill and Northland Securities have upgraded First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) to neutral ratings after the company provided mixed Q4 results and light Q1 guidance in the wake of its YieldCo announcement. Needham and RBC have hiked their targets.
- Northland's Colin Rusch: "With FSLR’s announcement of its intention to list a yield co, we are moving to the sidelines for now until further details are available on the yield co." His $51 target (upped from $46) assumes the YieldCo will be worth $6B, sport a 3.5% dividend yield, and have cash available for distribution (CAFD) of $0.08/watt, with First Solar deploying 3GW into it by the end of 2017.
- Needham's Edwin Mok (target hiked by $5 to $75): "With the announced negotiations between FSLR and SPWR to form a joint yieldco, we are not surprised by the lowered 1Q15 guidance ... we believe management is executing its prior plans on project pipeline development, increasing efficiency and capacity expansions. The yieldco strategy coupled with FSLR's strong market position and a well capitalized balance sheet should enable FSLR to extract significant value from the joint yieldco."
- Prior First Solar coverage
First Solar Inc is a provider of solar energy solutions. It designs, manufactures and sells PV solar modules with a thin-film semiconductor technology. It also manufactures crystalline silicon solar modules.
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