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First Solar, Inc. (FSLR)

  • Sep. 12, 2014, 2:14 PM
    • Solar stocks are on the move after Trina Solar (TSL +3.7%) CEO Gao Jifan says its factories are operating at full capacity but the company still can't meet the demand for its solar panels.
    • China's top three solar panel makers are at full capacity and will have to expand their production, Gao says, noting that TSL's solar panel production will rise to 3.8 GW by year-end, up from ~3.4 GW at the end of June.
    • China recently announced new subsidies for smaller solar energy projects, which Goldman Sachs says will make selling power to the country's electrical grid much more lucrative for the operators and will cause prices of solar components to rise.
    • CSIQ +2.6%, CSUN +7.4%, YGE +3%, FSLR +1.7%, SPWR +0.8%, JASO +2.4%, SOL +5.4%.
    • ETFs: TAN, KWT
  • Aug. 26, 2014, 9:55 AM
    • BofA/Merrill thinks First Solar (FSLR -0.1%) will likely decide not to create a YieldCo, a move it argues would remove the company's ability to sell projects at more attractive valuations.
    • Needham cited the potential for a YieldCo as a reason for upgrading First Solar following its Q2 report. On the CC (transcript), CEO Jim Hughes remained non-committal. "On the YieldCo, in terms of details, one we haven't reach the decision and two, I don't think we're prepared to discuss details other than to say, we're obviously close observers of the marketplace."
    • Following the successful IPO of SunEdison's TerraForm Power unit, a number of solar firms have said they're considering a YieldCo.
  • Aug. 12, 2014, 3:50 PM
    • Citi's Shahriar Pourreza: "Our sector tilt is favorable towards solar downstream names versus the upstream manufacturers - First Solar (FSLR +0.1%) is the bellwether in the downstream market."
    • Pourreza predicts First Solar's "balance sheet strength and bankability premium" should "should allow it to continue to capture large scale projects in key growth regions globally."
    • Shares are closing near breakeven on a day when many solar stocks are down over 4%. They remain well above where they traded going into last week's Q2 report.
    | 1 Comment
  • Aug. 6, 2014, 7:44 AM
    • First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) -3% premarket, recovering roughly half of losses following its Q2 earnings miss; Needham's upgrade of shares to Buy from Hold may be helping.
    • In explaining the upgrade, with a $75 price target, the firm cites factors including a high likelihood of a FSLR yieldco, thus creating meaningful value; positive metrics supporting greater growth trajectory ahead; near-term opportunities created by the U.S. tariffs on Chinese modules; and strong efficiency gains.
    • Although Q2 results were weak due to "lumpy" timing of project revenue, Needham says it is not concerned and instead focused on FSLR's strong YTD bookings, increased expected revenue and long-term pipeline expansion, suggesting strengthening of FSLR's business.
    • Also, Brean Capital maintains its Buy rating and $83 price target, saying FSLR's Q2 results were unexpected but the shortfall is not material to the stock's valuation; the firm notes FSLR's cadmium telluride technology efficiency has surpassed crystalline, which it considers a significant positive going forward (
    | 1 Comment
  • Aug. 5, 2014, 4:41 PM
    • In spite of its big Q2 miss, First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) is reiterating guidance for full-year EPS of $2.40-$2.80 (consensus is at $2.70) and operating cash flow of $300M-$500M.
    • The Q2 miss is blamed on project delays that led to deferred revenue recognition to 2H14, and the push-out of revenue recognition for the Campo Verde project.
    • Thanks to the shortfall, gross margin dropped to 17% from 27% a year ago. Opex fell 10% to $90.8M. Net cash was $1.2B at quarter's end.
    • Expected future systems/3rd-party module revenue is up $500M Q/Q to $7.6B, and expected module shipments for systems and 3rd-party modules is up by 400MW to 3.2GW.
    • Potential bookings opportunities are up 500MW to 12.7GW; the lion's share are called "early-stage," and nearly half are in North America. Operations & maintenance (O&M) bookings are above 800MW YTD, thanks in part to the Skytron acquisition.
    • Module production +1% Q/Q and +15% Y/Y to 447MW, and average conversion efficiency rose 50 bps Q/Q and 100 bps Y/Y to 14%. First Solar has achieved a 21% cell efficiency in lab tests, beating a prior mark of 20.4%.
    • FSLR -5.3% AH. Q2 results, PR, slides
    | 1 Comment
  • Aug. 5, 2014, 4:07 PM
    • First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR): Q2 EPS of $0.04 may not be comparable to consensus of $0.37.
    • Revenue of $544M (+4.7% Y/Y) misses by $251.88M.
    • Shares -5.9%.
    • Press Release
  • Aug. 4, 2014, 5:35 PM
  • Aug. 1, 2014, 12:26 PM
    • Solar stocks are underperforming (TAN -4%) amid a market selloff after SunPower (SPWR -8.5%) posted mixed Q2 results and provided Q3/2014 guidance ranges with midpoints below consensus.
    • SunPower also announced it's building a new plant (Fab 5) that could go live in 2017 and eventually produce 700MW+/year of modules, boosting its capacity by over 50%. "Our share has been in single digits for a while and demand for the last 24 months suggests that we can expand share," says CEO Tom Werner.
    • The announcement comes 6 weeks after SolarCity (SCTY -3.5%) unveiled plans to build a 1GW+ module plant with newly-acquired Silevo's help, and said it will later build "one or more significantly larger plants at an order of magnitude greater annual production capacity."
    • Minimal capacity investments, together with rising U.S./Asian demand, have helped module prices stabilize following gut-wrenching declines in prior years.
    • Also: SunPower stated on its CC (transcript) it hasn't decided whether to create a solar project YieldCo similar to SunEdison's (SUNE -4.3%) TerraForm Power (TERP -4.7%), which recently turned in a strong IPO. "It does not look like the company is likely to make a decision anytime soon," says Raymond James.
    • Nonetheless, Brean has upgraded SunPower to Buy, citing optimism about strong demand and healthy pricing.
    • Other notable decliners: FSLR -3.6%. TSL -8.4%. JKS -6%. CSIQ -5.6%. CSUN -5.7%. YGE -5%. SOL -4.5%. ENPH -5.8%. RGSE -4.5%. HSOL -3.9%. JASO -4.4%.
  • Jul. 28, 2014, 7:59 AM
    • Solar names are under pressure following the U.S. government's move to place anti-dumping duties as high as 165% percent on solar panels and cells from China.
    • China condemns the action, saying "if escalating problems in the China-U.S. solar industry are ignored, in the end it will damage up and downstream industries in both countries."
    • Moving sharply lower premarket: YGE -5.1%, CSIQ -4.3%, JKS -3.8%, TSL -2.7%, JASO -2.5%, SCTY -2.2%, HSOL -4.9%
    • Moving up: SPWR +1.8%, FSLR +2.7%.
    • ETFs: TAN, KWT
  • Jul. 27, 2014, 10:18 PM
    • The Commerce Department has imposed preliminary anti-dumping tariffs ranging from 26%-165% on Chinese and Taiwanese solar cell/module imports. The tariffs come on top of the anti-subsidy tariffs imposed in early June, and in spite of a WTO ruling declaring U.S. solar tariffs violate global trade rules.
    • Among the affected exporters,Trina (NYSE:TSL) is getting off the lightest: Between the June and July tariffs, it's dealing with a combined rate of 29.3%.
    • Yingli (NYSE:YGE), Canadian Solar (CSIQ), and Hanwha (NASDAQ:HSOL) are set to pay a combined rate of 47.27%, and Suntech (NYSE:STP) a combined rate of 49.24%. ReneSola (NYSE:SOL) and JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS) have to pay a 58.87% anti-dumping rate.
    • Chinese module makers can pay 2012 tariff rates instead if they use Chinese (rather than Taiwanese) cells. Those rates are generally a little milder, often ranging from 24%-31%.
    • "The tariffs in this case are so high as to prohibit basically any manufacturer from selling at a competitive price in to the U.S," says GTM Research's Shayle Kann. A final DOC ruling on the tariffs is expected around Dec. 15, and an ITC ruling on Jan. 29. (the full ruling - .pdf)
    • U.S. rivals First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) and SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) stand to benefit. Their shares rose following the June tariff announcement.
    • Other Chinese solar firms: JASO, CSUN, LDK
  • Jul. 11, 2014, 1:05 PM
    • First Solar (FSLR -0.3%) is reportedly abandoning its effort to build a 2GW solar plant in the Chinese city of Ordos, following years of talks.
    • The company signed an MOU with the Chinese government in 2009 to build the plant. Two years later, it signed an MOU with Guangdong Nuclear to help develop the project.
    • For reference, First Solar estimated it had 12.2GW of potential booking opportunities at the end of Q1. Shares briefly dipped due to the report, but have bounced back.
  • Jul. 8, 2014, 10:08 AM
    • OTR Global reports the Chinese government is thinking of cutting its 2014 solar installation targets due to credit availability issues.
    • The government previously set a 2014 installation target of 14GW (8GW distributed systems, 6GW utility). Deutsche has already expressed doubts about its feasibility following a soft Q1.
    • U.S. and Japanese shipments have been faring better, but new DoC tariffs could take a toll on near-term Chinese sales to the former market.
    • Solar stocks are lower amid a market selloff: YGE -5.3%. CSIQ -4.7%. SCTY -3.5%. FSLR -3.5%. SPWR -3.2%. JKS -4.6%. HSOL -4.4%. SOL -3.5%. DQ -3.4%. CSUN -5%. TSL -2.7%. ENPH -3%.
    • Solar ETFs: KWT, TAN
    • Update: OTR's note comes amid a report the Chinese government plans to hike its subsidies for power sales stemming from rooftop solar projects by up to 55%, putting their revenue (on a per-kWh basis) on par with ground-mounted projects.
  • Jun. 26, 2014, 2:31 PM
    • The U.S. government's development finance arm and a World Bank entity are respectively providing $230M and $60M for a 141MW First Solar (FSLR +1.6%) project to be built in Chile's Atacama Desert. The deal paves the way for First Solar to start construction.
    • First Solar notes the project is one of several it has planned for Latin America. Last year, the company bought Solar Chile, a firm owning a 1.5GW portfolio of local solar projects.
    • Shares have moved higher on the news, and are once more closing in on a 52-week high of $74.84.
    • Previous: First Solar scores 150MW CA solar project
    | Comment!
  • Jun. 17, 2014, 12:55 PM
    • SolarCity has announced plans to build a 1GW+ module plant in NY, and to follow it up with one or more much larger facilities. Notably, the company declares (in spite of a current capacity glut) it needs to build the plants to meet long-term solar demand.
    • Yingli missed Q1 estimates, but reported a healthy gross margin (thanks in part to strong Japanese sales) and reiterated full-year guidance.
    • Also: Goldman is out with a bullish note, predicting rooftop solar installations will post a 40% CAGR through 2016.
    • Gainers: FSLR +2.8%. SPWR +4.2%. SUNE +4.4%. JASO +8.2%. SOL +7.5%. JKS +6.5%. CSIQ +7.4%. DQ +4.2%. ASTI +3.9%. HSOL +6.9%. TSL +5.6%. ENPH +3.5%. CSUN +3.7%. RGSE +11.3% (announced a new Hawaiian deal).
    • SolarCity's plans are a positive for equipment vendors GT Advanced (GTAT +1.5%) and Veeco (VECO +1.6%), each of which has seen its solar orders plummet thanks to the capacity glut.
    • Solar ETFs: KWT, TAN
    • Yesterday: Solar stocks rally; Deutsche upbeat on YieldCo potential
  • Jun. 16, 2014, 11:05 AM
    • "We are becoming increasingly constructive on the solar sector as we expect further tightening of the solar supply/demand balance and expect increased investor interest driving valuation multiple expansion," says Deutsche, which last month struck a far more cautious tone on the industry.
    • The firm adds it expects "the emergence of 5-6 publicly traded [solar project] YieldCos over the next 12-18 months to act as a robust growth enabler." It has upgraded SunEdison (SUNE +6.4%), which recently filed an S-1 for its TerraForm Power (TERP) YieldCo, to Buy.
    • YieldCo momentum is seen growing ahead of potential 2016 U.S. solar tax credit changes, and greater international activity is expected to start in 2015, as grid parity is reached in more markets.
    • Notable gainers: FSLR +3%. SPWR +4.7%. CSUN +5.2%. SOL +4.8%. RGSE +3.4%. HSOL +3.4%. YGE +3.3%. CSIQ +3.1%.
    • SunPower might also be getting a lift from news of a $200M, 2-year loan program with Admirals Bank to finance U.S. residential solar projects. SunPower has already reached residential financing deals with Google and BofA/Merrill this year.
    • Solar ETFs: KWT, TAN
  • Jun. 13, 2014, 6:25 PM
    • Tenaska Solar Ventures has hired First Solar (FSLR) to design and build a 150MW solar plant near El Centro, CA.
    • First Solar will both provide EPC services for the project, and use its solar modules. Construction is expected to start later this year, and commercial operation is set for 2016.
    • The company claimed 12.2GW of potential booking opportunities at the end of Q1.
    • Previous: First Solar buys solar monitoring/control system provider
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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.