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.
Thu, Apr. 30, 5:26 PM
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)
Wed, Apr. 15, 1:42 PM
- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) is among the standouts on a fairly good day for tech stocks in general, and solar stocks in particular. The U.S. solar module/project giant is now up 43% YTD, thanks in part to enthusiasm for its 8Point3 Energy YieldCo JV with SunPower.
- With 8M shares (11% of the float) shorted as of March 31, short-covering could be aiding today's gains. Shares now go for 18x a 2016 EPS consensus of $3.49.
Wed, Mar. 25, 3:41 PM
- A day after posting fresh gains while broader equity markets barely moved, solar stocks are posting steep losses (TAN -4%) amid a 2.2% drop for the Nasdaq.
- Hurting the group's cause: Yingli (down 14.7%) posted a Q4 miss this morning in spite of topping its solar module shipment guidance. ASP declines and a weak euro/yen weighed on the company's top line.
- Chinese firms ReneSola (SOL -7.5%), Daqo (DQ -5.7%), Trina (TSL -4.1%), and JinkoSolar (JKS -3.5%) are among the major decliners. But so are North American firms First Solar (FSLR -3.5%), SunEdison (SUNE -4.2%), Vivint (VSLR -3.8%), and Canadian Solar (CSIQ -3.2%).
- SunEdison announced today it plans to buy 1K vanadium flow batteries (good for over 100MWh) from Imergy Power Systems to store solar electricity produced by Indian minigrid projects. Along with the move, SunEdison is upping its equity stake in Imergy. The move comes shortly after SunEdison announced it's entering the solar/wind battery storage market itself by acquiring assets from private Solar Grid Storage.
Tue, Mar. 24, 2:24 PM
- Buoyed this year by decent Q4 numbers, solid 2015 guidance, and YieldCo news, solar stocks are adding to their gains today even as the Nasdaq barely budges. The Guggenheim Solar ETF (TAN +0.7%) is up 35% YTD and nearing a 52-week high of $47.00.
- Chinese firms are adding to last week's gains - JinkoSolar (JKS +3.7%), ReneSola (SOL +3.3%), Daqo (DQ +4.8%), Trina (TSL +1.9%), JA Solar (JASO +2.7%), and China Sunergy (CSUN +12.5%) stand out. Beijing recently hiked its 2015 solar installation target by 2.8GW to 17.8GW (up from 2014's 14GW), while setting no specific targets for utility vs. distributed solar installations. The lack of utility/distributed targets is expected to make the goal easier to hit.
- U.S. names aren't getting left out: First Solar (FSLR +3.5%) and SolarCity (SCTY +2.1%) are rallying, as are microcaps RGS Energy (RGSE +6.5%) and Solar3D (SLTD +12.7%). Solar3D, a California installer, has risen 58% over the last 4 trading days.
Wed, Feb. 25, 9:34 AM
- BofA/Merrill and Northland Securities have upgraded First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) to neutral ratings after the company provided mixed Q4 results and light Q1 guidance in the wake of its YieldCo announcement. Needham and RBC have hiked their targets.
- Northland's Colin Rusch: "With FSLR’s announcement of its intention to list a yield co, we are moving to the sidelines for now until further details are available on the yield co." His $51 target (upped from $46) assumes the YieldCo will be worth $6B, sport a 3.5% dividend yield, and have cash available for distribution (CAFD) of $0.08/watt, with First Solar deploying 3GW into it by the end of 2017.
- Needham's Edwin Mok (target hiked by $5 to $75): "With the announced negotiations between FSLR and SPWR to form a joint yieldco, we are not surprised by the lowered 1Q15 guidance ... we believe management is executing its prior plans on project pipeline development, increasing efficiency and capacity expansions. The yieldco strategy coupled with FSLR's strong market position and a well capitalized balance sheet should enable FSLR to extract significant value from the joint yieldco."
- Prior First Solar coverage
Tue, Feb. 24, 1:16 PM
- SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) states in its Q4 earnings slides (.pdf) its planned solar project YieldCo with First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) will be a 50/50 JV, and promises it will lower the companies' cost of capital and improve their financing options for solar projects.
- Meanwhile, Deutsche's Vishal Shah (a long-time solar bull) has upgraded First Solar to Buy ahead of this afternoon's Q4 report, and declares the YieldCo could be "one of the best growth stories out there."
- Under "conservative assumptions," he sees SunPower and First Solar respectively having 640MW and 755MW of projects they can contribute, resulting in an equity value of $2.8B. Assuming an 85% payout ratio, Shah sees the YieldCo providing a 5% dividend yield. He adds the companies could each contribute another ~1.5GW of projects (via their pipelines) by the end of 2016.
- Raymond James' Pavel Molchanov compares the alliance to a Duke/UNC or Coke/Pepsi partnership. "By joining forces, First Solar and SunPower can create an asset base that is even larger ... With the S-1 set to be filed in 1Q, we see no reason why the IPO couldn’t take place in 2015."
- The YieldCo news is easily overshadowing SunPower's light Q1 guidance: Revenue of $410M-$460M and EPS of $0.05-$0.15 vs. a consensus of $544.7M and $0.25. Though the company says its "business fundamentals for 2015 remain strong," it's withdrawing its full-year guidance until YieldCo plans are finalized.
- SunPower recognized revenue on 293MW of solar systems in Q4, a little below guidance of 300MW-340MW. It expects to recognize 240MW-270MW in seasonally weak Q1. Q4 gross margin was 20.4%, +370 bps Q/Q and flat Y/Y. Q1 GM guidance is at 18%-20%.
Tue, Feb. 24, 12:45 PM
Tue, Feb. 24, 9:16 AM
Mon, Feb. 23, 5:37 PM
Mon, Feb. 23, 4:41 PM
- First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) and SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) "are in advanced negotiations to form a joint YieldCo vehicle (the YieldCo) to which they each expect to contribute a portfolio of selected solar generation assets from their existing portfolio of assets."
- After reaching a deal, the companies plan to do an IPO for the YieldCo. Investors in both companies have been urging them to follow SunEdison's lead in launching solar project YieldCos; each had been non-committal until now.
- FSLR +9.7% AH to $54.44. SPWR +11.5% to $31.00. SunPower's Q4 report arrives tomorrow morning; First Solar reports after tomorrow's close.
Tue, Feb. 3, 10:59 AM
- Solar stocks are adding to yesterday's gains in a big way (TAN +3.6%) as oil prices (and oil/gas stocks) continue their recent rally: WTI crude is up $1.51 today to $51.08/barrel. The Nasdaq is close to breakeven.
- Also possibly helping solar firms: Canadian Solar's (CSIQ +21.2%) $265M deal to buy North American solar project developer Recurrent Energy from Sharp. The deal, which CSIQ estimates spells a $2.3B+ revenue opportunity, acts as a fresh vote of confidence for the downstream U.S. solar market in the wake of oil and natural gas' big declines.
- Notable gainers (besides CSIQ): FSLR +4%. SPWR +5.1%. JKS +8%. JASO +6.5%. SOL +7.1%. VSLR +6.3%. ASTI +7.7%. CSUN +7.7%. YGE +4.7%. HSOL +8.8%. DQ +3.4%. ENPH +5.8%. TSL +5.5%.
Mon, Feb. 2, 11:30 AM
- WTI crude oil soared above $48/barrel on Friday after ISIS attacked the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, and is holding its ground today. Oil/gas producers are rallying, and so are beaten-down solar firms (TAN +2.2%).
- Notable gainers: FSLR +6%. SCTY +9.2%. SUNE +5.5%. SPWR +4.9%. TSL +6.6%. JKS +4.8%. CSIQ +4.6%. DQ +13.2%. VSLR +4.4%. JASO +3.8%. ENPH +3.4%. HSOL +3.6%. YGE +4.3%. ASTI +3.1%. SOL +3.4%.
- RBC made a contrarian call on Friday, upgrading SunPower, JA Solar, and Trina to Outperform. A long list of U.S. and Chinese solar firms are expected to post Q4 results this month.
Mon, Jan. 26, 2:09 PM
- Though WTI crude is still below $46/barrel and the Nasdaq is only up 0.3%, beaten-down solar stocks are posting big gains (TAN +3.9%). Quite possibly helping: Pres. Obama has said the U.S. will help finance an Indian effort to install 100GW of solar capacity by 2022.
- The head of an Indian think tank estimates such an effort would cost $160B. India says it's seeking $100B worth of investments over 7 years. The country's bureaucracy/red tape has often stalled major foreign investments; the new government has repeatedly promised to change that.
- First Solar (FSLR +4.1%) and SunEdison (SUNE +4.1%) are among the companies to have struck deals for Indian solar projects. SunEdison has announced plans to invest up to $4B in an Indian solar manufacturing plant through a JV. First Solar and Trina (TSL +5.4%) are weighing plans to build their own local plants.
- Other notable gainers: SCTY +4.7%. JKS +7.5%. SOL +5.8%. SPWR +2.9%. CSIQ +4.6%. JASO +4.4%. RGSE +3.7%. ASTI +9.3%. HSOL +3.2%. DQ +3.7%.
Thu, Jan. 8, 1:15 PM
- Deutsche's Vishal Shah, bullish on solar for a long time, asserts the "recent volatility in solar stocks, driven largely by oil price weakness, presents an attractive entry point for investors as we expect 2015 to be a year of stable industry pricing and accelerating volume growth."
- Shah expects solar to see a "balanced supply/demand outlook as strong demand from the US and improving demand from China/other emerging solar markets offsets any potential demand weakness in the UK/Japan."
- He observes oil accounts for just ~5% of global electricity output, and sees both solar project pipelines/margins and module margins rising in 2015. Tariffs against Chinese module vendors are expected to be "completely removed."
- His top picks are SolarCity (SCTY +3.3%), SunEdison (SUNE +4.1%), SunPower (SPWR +6.1%), and Vivint (VSLR +0.3%); the first three are faring quite well today. Yingli (YGE +0.2%), however, has been downgraded to Hold due to balance sheet and financial flexibility concerns.
- Other major gainers: FSLR +3.9%. JKS +6%. ENPH +5.4%. CSIQ +3.7%. RGSE +5.2%. TERP +3.2%.
- SunEdison announced today it has bought new wind turbines that will allow it to build up to 1.6GW of wind projects that qualify for U.S. tax credits. The purchase follows the company's $2.4B deal to buy project developer First Wind.
- ETFs: TAN, KWT
FSLR vs. ETF Alternatives
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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