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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 | 29 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Mon, Jun. 15, 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.
    | Mon, Jun. 15, 11:07 AM | 7 Comments
  • Wed, Jun. 10, 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.
    | Wed, Jun. 10, 1:21 PM | 24 Comments
  • Fri, Jun. 5, 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.
    | Fri, Jun. 5, 1:26 PM | 8 Comments
  • Tue, May 26, 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.
    | Tue, May 26, 10:15 AM | 46 Comments
  • Thu, Apr. 30, 5:26 PM
    | Thu, Apr. 30, 5:26 PM | Comment!
  • Thu, Apr. 30, 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)
    | Thu, Apr. 30, 5:13 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.