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First Solar, Inc. (FSLR)

  • 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. 17, 2014, 12:55 PM | 13 Comments
  • 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. 16, 2014, 11:05 AM | 5 Comments
  • 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
    | Jun. 13, 2014, 6:25 PM | 4 Comments
  • Jun. 4, 2014, 9:30 AM
    • The Department of Commerce has imposed new preliminary tariffs on Chinese solar module imports, covering both modules featuring Chinese and non-Chinese cells. Trina (NYSE:TSL) is seeing an 18.56% tariff, bankrupt Suntech (NYSE:STP) a 35.21% tariff, and most other firms a 26.89% tariff.
    • The move follows a complaint from Germany's SolarWorld that Chinese firms are using a loophole involving imported cells to sidestep the DOCs 2012 tariffs. A separate anti-dumping decision is due on July 25.
    • Morgan Stanley notes many were expecting either a lower tariff (perhaps around 15%) or a settlement similar to the EU/China deal. Not surprisingly, the Chinese government says it's "strongly dissatisfied" with the DOC's action, and warns it could hurt trade ties.
    • Chinese solar exporters are off: TSL -6.2%. YGE -5.8%. CSIQ -5.1%. JKS -8.8%. JASO -4.4%. CSUN -3.3%.
    • U.S. peers First Solar (FSLR +2.5%) and SunPower (SPWR +5.5%) are higher. But SolarCity (SCTY -2.8%) and SunEdison (SUNE -3.5%) are off, as investors fear higher panel costs for solar projects. Also: SunEdison has announced a new $500M convertible debt offering. $350M-$400M of the proceeds will go to its TerraForm Power (Pending:TERP) spinoff.
    • Solar ETFs: KWT, TAN
    | Jun. 4, 2014, 9:30 AM | 22 Comments
  • Jun. 3, 2014, 12:37 PM
    • First Solar (FSLR -1.4%) is buying skyton-energy, a provider of solar plant monitoring/control hardware and software, as well as related operations & maintenance (O&M) services, from Germany's AEG Power. Terms are undisclosed.
    • Skytron's systems are currently installed within 600 European solar plants possessing a combined 5GW of capacity - more than 2x First Solar's current portfolio of monitored assets.
    • The deal strengthens First Solar's portfolio of solar installation/management offerings as it battles for new solar project contracts, and bolsters its European foothold. The company had a 12.2GW pipeline of potential booking opportunities at the end of Q1.
    • Shares are lower, but less so than many solar peers.
    | Jun. 3, 2014, 12:37 PM | 3 Comments
  • May 29, 2014, 2:45 PM
    • SunEdison has filed an S-1 for its anticipated solar project spinoff. The spinoff, named TerraForm Power, will own a slew of SunEdison-built solar projects, while generating revenue (and distributing related cash flows) from electricity sale agreements.
    • The IPO might pave the way for other companies with sizable downstream project portfolios, such as First Solar (FSLR +2.8%), JinkoSolar (JKS +9.7%), and Trina (TSL +8.2%), to do spinoffs of their own. SunEdison's move comes after SolarCity (SCTY +5.6%) twice raised funds by selling solar asset-backed notes.
    • Solar stocks are following SunEdison higher (TAN +2.6%). In addition to the aforementioned companies, gainers include SunPower (SPWR +2.5%), Yingli (YGE +3.5%), Canadian Solar (CSIQ +4.6%), and Daqo (DQ +1.5%).
    | May 29, 2014, 2:45 PM | 2 Comments
  • May 23, 2014, 9:11 AM
    • Southern Co. (SO) and Turner Renewable Energy agree to acquire the largest solar facility in New Mexico, the 50 MW Macho Springs solar facility, from First Solar (FSLR).
    • The facility is expected to generate enough electricity to power more than 18K homes in El Paso Electric's (EE) service territory.
    • Financial terms are not disclosed.
    | May 23, 2014, 9:11 AM | 14 Comments
  • May 21, 2014, 4:00 PM
    • First Solar (FSLR +3%), along with Australian solar firm Ingenero, plans to develop a hybrid diesel-solar project in Queensland, Australia. The project will provide power for a Rio Tinto bauxite mine, and is expected to be finished in late 2014.
    • Shares have joined a solar stock rally that has come in the wake of Trina's strong Q2 outlook. They've been gradually trending lower since mid-March after taking off in response to the company's analyst day guidance.
    | May 21, 2014, 4:00 PM | 3 Comments
  • May 7, 2014, 11:45 AM
    • A Q1 beat and full-year guidance hike aren't enough to keep First Solar (FSLR -4.2%) from selling off. Possibly contributing: In spite of the guidance hike, First Solar stated on its CC (transcript) Q2 EPS "will be significantly lower" than a $0.60 consensus due to project timings; that implies 2014 results will be very back-end loaded.
    • Also: First Solar disclosed in its earnings slides (.pdf) its expected future systems/3rd-party module revenue is down $400M from the end of 2013 to $7.1B. However, expected module shipments are up by 100MW to 2.8GW, and potential booking opportunities have risen by 1.6GW to 12.2GW.
    • Module production totaled 441MW, -1% Q/Q and +19% Y/Y. Conversion efficiency rose 10 bps Q/Q and 60 bps Y/Y to 13.5%, with lead-line efficiency rising 30 bps Q/Q and 120 bps Y/Y to 14.2%. The company is aiming for 18.1%-18.9% lead-line efficiency by 2017.
    • Other solar stocks are also off (TAN -2.8%), as investors continue showing a take-no-prisoners attitude towards momentum stocks in general. Canadian Solar (CSIQ +0.3%) has given back the premarket gains it saw following a Q1 guidance hike.
    • Notable decliners: SCTY -8.8%. SUNE -7%. TSL -5.5%. CSUN -5.1%. YGE -4.8%. SPWR -4.2%. DQ -5.7%.
    | May 7, 2014, 11:45 AM | 1 Comment
  • May 6, 2014, 4:17 PM
    • First Solar (FSLR) has hiked its 2014 EPS guidance range by $0.20 to $2.40-$2.80; the consensus is at $2.49. Gross margin is now expected to be in a range of 17%-18% vs. a prior 16%-18%, and operating cash flow in a range of $300M-$500M vs. a prior $250M-$400M.
    • Gross margin rose 250 bps Y/Y in Q1 to 24.9%, contributing to First Solar's big EPS beat. A 10% drop in opex to $97.4M (compares with 26% rev. growth) also helped.
    • Due to project construction work, First Solar ended Q1 with $1.4B in cash/marketable securities, down $385M from the end of Q4.
    • Shares +4.5% AH.
    • Q1 results, PR
    | May 6, 2014, 4:17 PM | 1 Comment
  • May 6, 2014, 4:08 PM
    • First Solar (FSLR): Q1 EPS of $1.10 beats by $0.58.
    • Revenue of $950M (+25.8% Y/Y) beats by $112.1M.
    • Shares +5.2%.
    • Press Release
    | May 6, 2014, 4:08 PM | 5 Comments
  • May 6, 2014, 10:15 AM
    • First Solar (FSLR +0.8%) will act as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for a 19.76MW solar project in Kings County, CA, and a 23MW project in Kings and neighboring Kern County. The former project is expected to be finished in October, and the latter in Q1 2015.
    • Shares are up slightly ahead of this afternoon's Q1 report. The company had 2.7GW of expected future module shipments at the end of Q4, and $7.5B worth of expected future module/systems revenue.
    | May 6, 2014, 10:15 AM | 1 Comment
  • May 5, 2014, 5:35 PM
  • Apr. 28, 2014, 2:15 PM
    • The latest rout in once-high-flying tech momentum plays isn't leaving solar stocks unscathed. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN -6.2%) is now down 21% from its March 7 high of $51.07.
    • Likely adding fuel to the fire: Credit Suisse has slashed its 2014 Chinese solar installation forecast by 500MW to 11.5GW, soundly below the government's 14GW target (set in February). CS thinks policy changes related to utility-scale projects, feed-in tariff reimbursement, and distributed solar incentives are needed for investment to pick up.
    • The firm adds JinkoSolar (JKS -10.8%), Trina (TSL -12.2%), and Canadian Solar (CSIQ -12.8%) are well-positioned to profit from downstream projects, given they have access to financing from the China Development Bank and other sources. On the other hand, it thinks Yingli (YGE -4.1%) and ReneSola (SOL -8.8%) are "less likely to access project capital due to their strained balance sheets." Yingli recently priced a stock offering expected to yield $83M in net proceeds.
    • Other decliners: FSLR -5.3%. SCTY -7.1%. SUNE -6.8%. CSUN -9.8%. JASO -9.4%. DQ -9.3%. HSOL -5.9%. SPWR -5.1%.
    | Apr. 28, 2014, 2:15 PM | 23 Comments
  • Apr. 16, 2014, 9:43 AM
    | Apr. 16, 2014, 9:43 AM | 52 Comments
  • Apr. 11, 2014, 3:20 PM
    • Solar stocks are broadly lower following Yingli Green Energy's (YGE -5.1%) warning of greater than projected declines in PV module shipments in Q1.
    • The first solar company to make a Q1 pre-announcement, YGE estimated Q1 shipments fell by the low 30s in percentage points from Q4, below prior company guidance of a mid-20s decrease, due to softness in China and project delays in Algeria.
    • YGE reiterated its FY 2014 shipment guidance of 4.0-4.2 GW, and sees higher prices lifting Q1 margins more than expected.
    • Although some of YGE's weaknesses may have been company-specific, the warning has cast a shadow over solar stocks today: SUNE -2.4%, FSLR -2.9%, TSL -2.6%, SCTY -1.7%, SPWR -5.2%, JKS -7.6%.
    • ETFs: TAN, KWT
    | Apr. 11, 2014, 3:20 PM | 5 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.