Seeking Alpha

First Solar, Inc. (FSLR)

  • Fri, Oct. 2, 4:03 PM
    • Like various other names clobbered in recent weeks as markets went into risk-off mode, solar stocks posted outsized gains today, with the Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSEARCA:TAN) more than erasing its big Monday losses. A rally in energy stocks (aided by higher crude prices) likely helped out. The Nasdaq rose 1.7%, and the S&P 1.4%.
    • SunEdison (SUNE +14.7%), which continues trading at a fraction of its June/July highs thanks to debt/cash flow fears and apparent hedge fund selling, was a standout. SolarCity (SCTY +7.3%), which made a high-efficiency panel announcement earlier today, also fared quite well, as did SunEdison buyout target Vivint (VSLR +10.8%), SunEdison YieldCo TerraForm Power (TERP +12.9%), and fellow North American firms Canadian Solar (CSIQ +12.5%), First Solar (FSLR +6.5%), SunPower (SPWR +5.8%), and Enphase (ENPH +11.4%).
    • In addition to Daqo, ReneSola, and Yingli (previously covered), Chinese winners included JinkoSolar (JKS +11.6%), Trina (TSL +6.7%), and JA Solar (JASO +5.7%).
    | Fri, Oct. 2, 4:03 PM | 15 Comments
  • Wed, Sep. 30, 6:44 PM
    • Initially off following its FQ3 report, 8point3 Energy (NASDAQ:CAFD) has since risen to $10.95. The First Solar/SunPower (FSLR, SPWR) YieldCo still trades well below its $21 June IPO price.
    • 8point3 has used its report to declare a $0.157/share prorated (post-IPO) distribution for FQ3, and forecast a $0.22/share FQ4 distribution (up 3.5% Q/Q after adjusting for prorating). Cash available for distribution is expected to rise to $14.8M-$15.2M from FQ3's $6.7M, and GAAP revenue to $4.9M-$5.1M from $3.1M.
    • Financials: FQ3 (ended Aug. 31) operating costs/expenses totaled $3.8M, nearly flat with the 3-month period ending Sep. 28, 2014. CAFD ended the quarter with $43.4M in cash, and $297.1M in long-term debt.
    • CEO Chuck Boynton: "As of the end of the third quarter 2015, we had 301 MW in production and expect an additional 131 MW of projects to reach commercial operation by the end of the year. Specifically, our 108 MW Quinto project remains on track to reach commercial operation on Oct. 31, 2015 and is already generating test energy prior to commercial operation. Once our initial portfolio reaches commercial operation this year, our assets are expected to generate approximately $70 million in annual CAFD with an approximately 22-year average remaining contract term."
    • FQ3 results, PR
    | Wed, Sep. 30, 6:44 PM | 1 Comment
  • Mon, Sep. 28, 1:41 PM
    • Solar stocks are among the market's biggest casualties as the Nasdaq (down 2.5%) and energy stocks get battered. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (NYSEARCA:TAN) has made fresh 52-week lows, and is now down 49% from an April peak of $50.00.
    • In addition to hedge fund darling SunEdison (down 17.4%, see prior coverage), major decliners include First Solar (FSLR -5.9%), SunPower (SPWR -9.1%), Canadian Solar (CSIQ -7.7%), SolarEdge (SEDG -11.1%), Enphase (ENPH -10.3%), Solar3D (SLTD -5.9%), Trina (TSL -9.4%), JinkoSolar (JKS -8.6%), and First Solar/SunPower YieldCo 8point3 Energy (CAFD -7.6%).
    • SunEdison YieldCos TerraForm Power (TERP -8.5%) and TerraForm Global (GLBL -7.8%) are also off sharply, as is SunEdison acquisition target Vivint (VSLR -8.9%).
    | Mon, Sep. 28, 1:41 PM | 28 Comments
  • Tue, Aug. 25, 12:34 PM
    • The Nasdaq is up 3.4% - a Chinese rate cut is helping - and solar stocks are among the day's standouts. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN +7.4%) is now up 14% from a Monday morning low of $25.51, albeit still down 13% from where it traded going into last week.
    • Today's gains come after Pres. Obama announced several new incentives meant to boost solar investment. Among them: $1B in additional loan guarantee authority for distributed energy projects, the unlocking of Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for solar installations involving single-family homes, and the creation of a HUD/DOE program to give homeowners "a simple way to measure and improve the energy efficiency of their homes, by increasing homeowners' borrowing power."
    • The announcement follows the White House's early-August unveiling of its Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut carbon emissions by 32% by 2030, relative to 2005 levels. Solar still only accounts for less than 1% of U.S. electricity output; renewable sources collectively account for 13%, with hydro responsible for half of the total and wind about a third.
    • It also follows the launch of Google's Project Sunroof, which (with the help of satellite imagery) provides would-be home solar installers with advise on installation size and financing options, among other things.
    • Major gainers include First Solar (FSLR +8.4%), JinkoSolar (JKS +27.1%), Trina (TSL +17.2%), Canadian Solar (CSIQ +13.2%), SunPower (SPWR +6.6%), JA Solar (JASO +10.6%), China Sunergy (CSUN +12.3%), Yingli (YGE +7.3%), SolarEdge (SEDG +6.9%), and Daqo (DQ +5.9%).
    • Cowen has launched coverage on Canadian Solar with an Outperform rating and $28.50 target. Meanwhile, First Solar thin-film module rival TSMC announced today it's shuttering its solar manufacturing ops, while citing a lack of scale/competitiveness.
    | Tue, Aug. 25, 12:34 PM | 11 Comments
  • Tue, Aug. 25, 11:29 AM
    • TSMC's (TSM +4.6%) thin-film solar module manufacturing unit plans to cease operations by month's end. Exec Steve Tso: "TSMC continues to believe that solar power is an important source of green energy and that solar module manufacturing remains a robust and growing industry, but despite six years of hard work we have not found a way to make a sustainable profit."
    • TSMC entered the hotly-competitive solar module market in 2011, while promising to eventually grow its production capacity to 1GW. The chip foundry now argues it entered the market too late, and that a lack of economies of scale left it at a cost disadvantage.
    • First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) remains the top player in the thin-film module market, and is followed by Japan's Solar Frontier. TSM has rallied amid a 3.4% gain for the Nasdaq.
    | Tue, Aug. 25, 11:29 AM | 3 Comments
  • Tue, Aug. 25, 10:43 AM
    • Goldman Sachs analysts say the U.S. stock market correction has many more parallels with 1998 than 2008, which “suggest[s] a rebound ahead,” while predicting the S&P 500 will rise by 11% from current levels to reach 2,100 by year's end.
    • The S&P fell 19% between July and August 1998, but "ultimately, the U.S. economy was relatively unaffected by overseas financial market gyrations in 1998, and we believe a similar situation will occur in 2015," Goldman says.
    • The correlation between U.S. economic growth and Chinese growth is relatively low, Goldman says, estimating that a one percentage point drop in Chinese growth would translate into a 0.06 pp reduction in U.S. GDP.
    • The best strategy for U.S. consumers, the bank advises, is to hold companies with high domestic revenues and avoid companies with high foreign sales.
    • Goldman's list of the 25 most oversold stocks with high U.S. sales exposure: KMX, M, WFM, CHK, SWN, RRC, COG, PXD, OKE, MPC, NAVI, ETFC, LNC, BXP, KEY, RF, DFS, ANTM, CSX, NSC, UNP, JBHT, FSLR, ADS, PAYX
    | Tue, Aug. 25, 10:43 AM | 41 Comments
  • Wed, Aug. 19, 1:31 PM
    • Solar stocks are underperforming (TAN -4%) as both oil and energy stocks post big losses following an unexpected rise in crude inventories, and Canadian Solar (CSIQ -20%) tumbles in the wake of a Q2 beat and light Q3 guidance. The Nasdaq is down 0.7%, and the S&P 0.8%.
    • Major decliners include David Einhorn/Stephen Mandel favorite SunEdison (SUNE -7.2%), which has nosedived since posting Q2 numbers on Aug. 6, and is a day removed from pricing a $650M convertible stock offering. Also selling off: Inverter/power optimizer maker SolarEdge (SEDG -9.6%), which tumbled last week in spite of an FQ4 beat and strong FQ1 guidance, and China's Trina (TSL -7.8%), which rose slightly yesterday following a Q2 beat and full-year guidance hike.
    • Other casualties include prominent U.S. names First Solar (FSLR -4.7%) and SolarCity (SCTY -3.7%), Chinese plays JinkoSolar (JKS -7.9%) and JA Solar (JASO -3.5%), and SunEdison YieldCos TerraForm Power (TERP -3.2%) and TerraForm Global (GLBL -3.6%).
    • Roth's Philip Shen is defending both Canadian and solar YieldCos. "Although yieldcos are no longer in vogue—for now —we fundamentally believe the quality of solar asset cash flows are high and that there is tremendous amount of growth ahead ... [Canadian's] management indicated that its yieldco launch remains on track for a YE'15 or early 2016 launch, and the confidential filing could occur soon ... Hypothetically, if CSIQ were not successful in launching its yieldco, the company would still be able to recycle its capital by selling its assets. Management believes this could drive $1bn of revenue in 2015, and we estimate this could represent ~$2.50 of EPS. "
    • Canaccord's Jonathan Dorsheimer: "We continue to believe that Canadian Solar's module business will experience a tightening supply/demand during this bullish end-of-year adoption cycle, which should benefit CSIQ's core operations. Although recent YieldCo and solar volatility have had dramatic valuation impacts, we believe the fundamental PV growth story is still intact."
    | Wed, Aug. 19, 1:31 PM | 52 Comments
  • Wed, Aug. 5, 9:19 AM
    | Wed, Aug. 5, 9:19 AM | 11 Comments
  • Tue, Aug. 4, 4:30 PM
    • In addition to beating Q2 estimates, First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) is guiding for 2015 revenue of $3.5B-$3.6B and EPS of $3.30-$3.60, above a consensus of $3.44B and $2.36.
    • As always, the company's quarterly/annual numbers depend a lot on the timing of revenue recognition for solar project sales. Q2 growth is attributed to "increased revenue recognition on the Silver State South project and the sale of majority interests in the North Star and Lost Hills-Blackwell projects."
    • Bookings/pipeline: Q2 project bookings totaled 537MW, bringing the YTD total to 1.4GW. Expected future module shipments fell by 100MW Q/Q to 3.8GW, and expected future systems/module revenue by $600M to $7B. However, potential bookings opportunities rose by 2.7GW to 16.7GW (primarily early-stage).
    • Module production: Output rose 4% Q/Q and 26% Y/Y to 563MW. Capacity utilization was 85% vs. 87% in Q1 and 80% a year ago. Average conversion efficiency rose 70 bps Q/Q and 140 bps Y/Y to 15.4%, with a best-line efficiency of 16.2%.
    • Financials: Gross margin (affected by deal timings) rose to 18.4% from 8.3% in Q1 and 17% a year ago; Q3 GM guidance is at 21%-22%. R&D spend fell 10% Y/Y to $30M; SG&A rose 23% to $71M. Free cash flow was -$47.3M. First Solar ended Q2 with $1.78B in cash/investments, and $300M in long-term debt.
    • First Solar has jumped to $49.29 AH. SunEdison (NYSE:SUNE) is up 2.8% to $23.07, and SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) up 1.9% to $27.23. SunEdison reports on Thursday.
    • First Solar's Q2 results, PR, slides (.pdf)
    | Tue, Aug. 4, 4:30 PM | 25 Comments
  • Tue, Aug. 4, 4:05 PM
    • First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR): Q2 EPS of $0.93 beats by $0.57.
    • Revenue of $896.22M (+64.6% Y/Y) beats by $144.5M.
    • Shares +6%.
    • Press Release
    | Tue, Aug. 4, 4:05 PM | 16 Comments
  • Mon, Aug. 3, 5:35 PM
  • Wed, Jul. 29, 3:25 PM
    • First Solar (FSLR +4.4%) and Canadian Solar (CSIQ +5.8%) are turning in strong days after North American peer and First Solar YieldCo partner SunPower (up 10.5%) provided strong full-year guidance in its Q2 report. The Nasdaq is up 0.5%.
    • SunPower also stated it expects a 30% CAGR in MW deployed from 2015-2019, and that its global project pipeline is now above 12GW. First Solar's Q2 report arrives on Aug. 4.
    | Wed, Jul. 29, 3:25 PM | 3 Comments
  • Wed, Jul. 1, 6:01 PM
    • Philip Tymen de Jong, formerly First Solar's (NASDAQ:FSLR) SVP of manufacturing and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC), is the company's new COO. He'll now have "leadership responsibility for areas including manufacturing, engineering, procurement and construction ("EPC"), quality and reliability, supply chain and product management." (8-K filing)
    • Georges Antoun, First Solar's COO since 2012, is now the company's U.S. president. Meanwhile, chief commercial officer Joe Kishkill has been named international president, and corporate controller Brian Schumaker chief accounting officer.
    • De Jong, Antoun, and Kishkill will report to CEO James A. Hughes. Schumaker will report to CFO Mark Widmar.
    | Wed, Jul. 1, 6:01 PM | 11 Comments
  • Mon, Jun. 29, 11:39 AM
    • Solar stocks are among the top decliners on a morning the Nasdaq is down 1.4%, thanks to a global selloff in equities triggered by Greek news. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN -4.1%) is now down 21% from an April peak of $50.00; it's still up 16% YTD, after having tumbled in 2H14.
    • Major decliners include U.S. firms SolarCity (SCTY -4.9%), First Solar (FSLR -4.3%), SunPower (SPWR -4.2%), SunEdison (SUNE -5.1%), Vivint (VSLR -7%), and RGS Energy (RGSE -8.2%), Chinese firms JinkoSolar (JKS -7.4%), Yingli (YGE -6.4%), China Sunergy (CSUN -8.3%), ReneSola (SOL -5.5%), and Trina (TSL -5.4%), and Israeli inverter/power optimizer maker SolarEdge (SEDG -5%).
    • Some news: 1) SunEdison and its TerraForm Power YieldCo have closed their $350M acquisition of Atlantic Power's 521MW wind plant portfolio. 2) SolarCity, vita its homebuilder partner program, has launched new energy storage and fixed-rate solar electricity pricing options in California (easily its largest market). The electricity, provided via 20-year deals, is said to feature a cost "equivalent to the lowest standard residential electricity rates of California's largest utilities." 3) SolarEdge is partnering with system provider Andalay on a solution that allows SolarEdge's optimizers to be quickly integrated with Andalay's solar modules.
    • Last Thursday: Home solar installer/electricity provider Sunrun files for IPO
    • Update: Also possibly hurting the group: A Supreme Court ruling blocking EPA regulations meant to limit emissions from coal power plants. The court ruled regulations need to take costs into account.
    | Mon, Jun. 29, 11:39 AM | 34 Comments
  • Tue, Jun. 23, 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.
    | Tue, Jun. 23, 1:16 PM | 3 Comments
  • Fri, Jun. 19, 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
    | Fri, Jun. 19, 11:36 AM | 3 Comments
FSLR vs. ETF Alternatives
Company Description
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.