Nov. 25, 2013, 11:54 AM
- Ten days after announcing a reseller deal with Japanese oil giant JX Nippon, along with plans to invest $100M to build local solar plants, First Solar (FSLR -3%) says it has begun constructing a 1.4MW project in the Southern Japanese city of Kitakyushu-shi. (PR)
- Though the project is modest in scope, it's noteworthy since it's the first one First Solar has announced for the fast-growing/high-margin Japanese market.
Nov. 19, 2013, 2:41 PM
- After steadily rising over the last three weeks, 3D printing stocks are reversing course in dramatic fashion today in the absence of major news. Solar stocks, which have also seen plenty of good days lately, are also selling off hard.
- 3D printer makers 3D Systems (DDD -6.1%), Stratasys (SSYS -7.5%), ExOne (XONE -7.7%), and Voxeljet (VJET -14.1%) are all off sharply, as is custom parts maker Proto Labs ([[PRLB -4.8% - sometimes hyped as a 3D printing play).
- Trina (TSL -4.9%), which provided a big Q3 beat and guidance hike this morning, has turned negative after shooting higher in premarket trading. Other solar decliners: YGE -10.9%. FSLR -4.6%. SOL -6.4%. JASO -6.4%. CSUN -5.6%. JKS 5.7%. DQ -5.5%. SUNE -5.5%. CSIQ -5.3%. SPWR -7.1%.
Nov. 15, 2013, 12:38 PM
- Leading Japanese oil refiner/seller JX Nippon has agreed to distribute high-efficiency First Solar (FSLR -0.2%) solar modules through April 2015. As part of the deal, First Solar will develop and manufacture technology it obtained through its April acquisition of TetraSun.
- Whereas First Solar has historically focused on offering thin-film solar modules for utility-scale projects - they tend to have lower efficiencies than silicon alternatives, but are also cheaper - TetraSun has developed silicon cells with very high efficiencies. That could make them well-suited for Japan, a high-margin solar market where space for residential/commercial deployments is often at a premium.
- First Solar has also announced it's investing $100M to build Japanese solar plants in partnership with local firms.
- Thanks to rapid growth (aided by generous subsidies) and high margins, the Japanese market has already been a boon to many Chinese solar firms. Solarbuzz estimates Japan's cumulative solar installations topped 10.5GW by the end of August, up ~50% just from the end of 2012.
Nov. 12, 2013, 8:59 AM
- Up strongly yesterday, ever-volatile solar stocks are giving back some of their gains in premarket trading today after Yingli (I, II) and Hanwha (I, II) provided Q3 results and full-year guidance that left investors wanting more following big 2013 run-ups.
- Notable decliners: TSL -3.9%. JKS -5.2%. JASO -3.4%. CSUN -3.3%. SCTY -1.3%. SUNE -2.5%.
- Also: Canadian Solar (CSIQ) is down 2.4% in spite of announcing a 32MW module supply deal for a Chinese solar plant, and First Solar (FSLR) is down 0.7% in spite of announcing it has obtained power purchase agreements for a 40MW California power plant it's building.
Nov. 11, 2013, 3:26 PM
- Solar stocks are bouncing back strongly today following last Thursday's SolarCity-led selloff. Though there's no major news trigger for today's gains, industry sentiment has been increasingly positive thanks to good earnings news, optimism about 2014 demand, and signs government support remains healthy.
- China has lifted its 2014 solar installation target to 12GW from 10GW, albeit while keeping its 2015 cumulative installation target intact at 35GW. Meanwhile, Solarbuzz is predicting long-struggling Europe will stabilize in 1H14, and return to growth in 2H14. Germany and the U.K. are expected to account for half of regional demand.
- JA Solar (JASO +10.1%), which has announced a new 70MW module supply deal, is among today's big winners. Others: JKS +10.5%. FSLR +4.2%. SCTY +6.7%. TSL +7.9%. ENPH +5%. YGE +6.7%. CSUN +8.8%. STRI +7.3%.
Nov. 7, 2013, 2:22 PM
- With shares up over 5x YTD going into the company's Q3 report, SolarCity (SCTY -14%) investors are taking profits in the face of a Q3 beat and above-consensus guidance.
- Credit Suisse (Outperform, $75 PT) is defending SolarCity today, while praising the company's operating leverage and incremental retained value per watt (rose 35% Q/Q in Q3 to $1.9)1.
- Goldman (Neutral, $65 PT) also talks up SolarCity's value retention, as well as its declining operational costs/watt (fell to $0.59/watt from $0.80/watt in Q2). But it also cautions expectations were high, points out "no volume upside was provided" for 2013/2014 deployment targets, and that there's "limited clarity" for SolarCity's solar lease securitization efforts.
- On its CC (transcript), SolarCity mentioned it invested $200M+ in solar deployments in Q3, and financed another $86M. The company has been raising funds for its deployment efforts at a breakneck pace.
- Many solar peers are also off sharply on a rough day for tech momentum play. Thanks to good earnings news, the group rallied sharply both on Monday and last Friday. In addition to SolarCity, China Sunergy's poor guidance could also be playing a role.
- Solar decliners: FSLR -4.2%. SPWR -6.1%. SOL -5.1%. JKS -4.8%. YGE -4.7%. JASO -6.5%. DQ -10.2%. SPWR -6.1%. LDK -5.5%. SUNE -3.8%.
Nov. 4, 2013, 12:56 PM
- Positive Q3 guidance revisions from Canadian Solar (previous) and Daqo (DQ +11.2%) are fueling another massive rally in solar stocks, some of which jumped last Friday thanks to blowout Q3 numbers from First Solar (FSLR +4.6%).
- Canadian hiked the midpoint of its Q3 module shipment guidance range by more than 10%, and the midpoint of its gross margin guidance range by 800 bps. Daqo has upped its polysilicon shipment range to 1,200-1,275 MT from a prior 1,000 MT, albeit while slightly lowering its wafer shipment guidance to 6.5-6.6 MT from prior 6.8 MT (shipping delays are blamed).
- The guidance hikes follow a string of positive Q2 reports from Chinese solar firms in August, as companies saw both their sales and margins benefit from growing local demand, diminishing overcapacity, and strong shipments to the high-margin Japanese market. Credit Suisse recently predicted improving demand could lead excess Chinese supply to evaporate by late 2014 or 2015.
- Also: Suntech (STP +13.6%) has officially reached a deal to sell its large and bankrupt Wuxi, China unit to solar cell maker Shunfeng (previous), SunPower (SPWR +10.9%) has announced it's buying module cleaning robot developer Greenbiotics, and SolarCity (SCTY +16.4%) has announced (as part of its seemingly non-stop financing binge) it's selling $54.4M in solar asset-backed notes maturing in Dec. 2026.
- Today's winners, aside from the aforementioned companies: JKS +9.8%. JASO +9.2%. RSOL +8.3%. LDK +6.5%. HSOL +5.2%. YGE +7.4%. CSUN +6%. SOL +6.9%. SUNE +3.5%. TSL +9.7%.
- Solar ETFs: KWT, TAN
Nov. 1, 2013, 12:47 PM
Nov. 1, 2013, 11:22 AM
- A solid majority of analysts covering First Solar (FSLR +15.5%) have maintained neutral ratings for a while, even as shares took off as part of a broader solar rally, and none have issued upgrades following the company's huge Q3 beat and mixed full-year guidance.
- Deutsche (Hold) estimates early revenue recognition for the Desert Sunlight project provided a $0.15 Q3 EPS boost, and that a lower tax rate and operational improvements provided a $0.25 boost. The firm sees "limited upside to 2014 estimates."
- Needham (Hold) offers a similar take: It's encouraged by First Solar's cost improvements and rising bookings, but is worried about the potential for lower 2014 earnings and "uncertainty" regarding 2015 growth.
- First Solar mentioned on its CC (transcript) its core module cost/watt ($0.49) is the "lowest in the industry" following a big Q3 drop - the company's cost advantage has been narrowing in recent years as polysilicon prices crash - and that it's testing modules with a 14.1% conversion efficiency; average Q2 efficiency was 13.3%, and lead-line efficiency 13.9%. Ont the other hand, First Solar says it's seeing a "lower system ASP environment."
- 16.8% of the float was shorted as of Oct. 15; that's probably assisting with today's rally. Also higher: CSIQ +7.2%. GTAT +6.3%. RSOL +8.9%. YGE +3.7%. SUNE +2.4%. SOL +3.6%.
- Update (12:35 PM): First Solar finally catches an upgrade: S&P has lifted shares all the way to Buy from Sell.
Nov. 1, 2013, 9:13 AM
Oct. 31, 2013, 5:50 PM
Oct. 31, 2013, 4:51 PM
- First Solar (FSLR) is trading near its October highs following its big Q3 beat.
- While systems sales are taking center stage in Q3 report, the performance of First Solar's module ops also improved. Module production (exc. German plant closures) rose 10% Q/Q and 8% Y/Y to 426MW, cost/watt fell $0.08 Q/Q and Y/Y to $0.59, and conversion efficiency, which has historically trailed that of non-thin-film module vendors, rose 30 bps Q/Q and 60 bps Y/Y to 13.3%.
- Capacity utilization was 80% in Q3, +500 bps Q/Q but -600 bps Y/Y. The company's 2013 module-only shipment guidance range has been favorably narrowed to 400MW-500MW from 300MW-500MW.
- On the other hand, First Solar is now guiding for 2013 systems shipments of 1.2GW, down from a prior 1.3GW; that's the main reason for the revenue guidance cut. 50% of Desert Sunlight revenue is now set to be recognized this year, up from ~33%.
- First Solar ended Q3 with $1.5B in cash/investments, up from $1.3B at the end of Q2. Opex rose 19% Y/Y, less than rev. growth of 51%.
- More on First Solar
Oct. 31, 2013, 4:33 PM
- First Solar (FSLR) attributes its blowout Q3 in part to initial revenue recognition for its 550MW Desert Sunlight solar project (California), and from the sale of its 50MW ABW project (Canada).
- Also helping: Gross margin rose 170 bps Q/Q and 30 bps Y/Y to 28.8%. First Solar has hiked its full-year gross margin guidance range to 24%-26% from 22%-23%.
- Nonetheless, 2013 operating cash flow guidance has been lowered to $700M-$900M from $800M-$1B. Capex guidance has been lowered to $300M-$350M from $350M-$400M.
- Along with its Q3 results, First Solar announces it's selling its 250MW Silver State South project (Nevada, previous) to a NextEra Energy (NEE) unit. Terms are undisclosed.
- Expected future module shipments are now at 2.7GW, up from 2.2GW at the end of Q2 and 2.6GW at the end of 2012. 860MW of incremental bookings were achieved in Q3, partly offset by ~300MW of shipments.
- Expects future systems/module revenue is at $7.8B, up from $7.6B at the end of Q2 and down from $8B at the end of 2012. Potential opportunities stand at 7.7GW, down 300MW Q/Q.
- FSLR remains halted, shares resume trading at 4:35PM ET. SPWR +2% AH. SCTY +3.1%.
- Q3 results, PR, slides
Oct. 31, 2013, 4:11 PM
- First Solar (FSLR): Q3 EPS of $2.28 beats by $1.28.
- Revenue of $1.27B (+51% Y/Y) beats by $277M.
- 2013 revenue guidance range lowered to $3.4B-$3.6B from $3.6B-$3.8B (consensus is at $3.63B). 2013 EPS guidance range raised to $4.25-$4.50 from $3.75-$4.25 (consensus is at $3.77)
- Shares are halted, and will resume trading at 4:35PM ET. CC at 4:30PM. (PR)
Oct. 31, 2013, 4:05 PM
Oct. 31, 2013, 12:10 AM
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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