First Solar Reports Record Quarterly Net Sales, Topping Wall Street’s Forecasts

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First Solar reports record quarterly net sales of $1.3 billion for Q3 2013, topping Wall Street’s forecast of $988.6 million. The company’s GAAP EPS during this year’s third quarter were $1.94 per share; Non-GAAP EPS were $2.28 per share.

First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) has published its financial results for Q3 2013. Net sales were $1.3 billion in the quarter, an increase of $746 million from Q2 2013 and an increase of $427 million from Q3 2012. The result exceeded Wall Street’s forecast of $988.6 million. Revenues for the first nine months of 2013 were $2.5 billion, compared to $2.3 billion that same period in 2012.

The sequential increase in net sales is primarily attributable to higher systems business project revenues, which included initial revenue recognition of Desert Sunlight and the sale of the ABW projects in Canada. Compared to Q3 2012, the increase in net sales was also attributable to the Desert Sunlight and ABW projects and higher sales volume to third-party module-only customers in Q3 2013, partially offset by initial revenue recognition for Topaz, achieved Q3 2012.

The company reported Q3 2013 GAAP net income share of $1.94, compared to $0.37 in Q2 2013 and $1.00 in Q3 2012. The third quarter of 2013 was impacted by pre-tax asset impairment charges of $56.6 million related to the agreement to sell the company’s facility in Mesa, Arizona.

Excluding the impact of the asset impairment charge, Non-GAAP net income per share increased 80% to $2.28. According to an article on Investor.com, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected just 99 cents.

The sequential increase in Non-GAAP earnings is primarily attributable to the initial revenue recognition of Desert Sunlight, the sale of the ABW projects, and higher sales volumes to third-party module-only customers in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. The year-over-year increase in earnings was primarily due to higher systems business project revenue, higher manufacturing utilization, and higher module sales to third-party customers in Q3 2013 compared to Q3 2012.

“The third quarter marks a key milestone in our company’s progress in achieving the strategic objectives we outlined during our Analyst Day event in April,” said Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar. “During the quarter we delivered on several key objectives, including additional bookings of 860MW (DC), significant reductions to our module manufacturing cost, and strong financial performance. With these encouraging results achieved, we move forward, focusing on strengthening our leadership position in the marketplace and achieving our strategic objectives for future success.”

During the company’s earnings call Hughes commented: “We are now flash testing modules in our Perrysburg facility with a conversion efficiency of 14.1%. Such results have the potential to open up new business segments to us and significantly increase our total addressable market.”

“Finally, at a time when others are no longer reporting module cost per watt, we’ve had the largest quarterly decline in our cost per watt since 2007 falling $0.08 to $0.59 on average in Q3, and in line with how our competitors report cost per watt, excluding freight recycling and warranty charges, our core figure is now below $0.50, $0.49 to be exact, the lowest in the industry,” Hughes added.

Despite the positive results, First Solar lowered its 2013 Net Sales guidance range from $3.6-3.8 billion to $3.4-3.6 billion.

FirstSolar Guidance Update

Recently, First Solar agreed to sell the 250MW (AC) Silver State South Solar Project to a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, and the company entered into an agreement to construct a 250MW solar power plant in Riverside County, California, for McCoy Solar, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources.