Tuesday, February 19, 2019

"First Solar to Report Q4 Earnings: What's in Store?" (FSLR)

Before we get to the headline story here's our last post on FSLR, January 23:

"Party is over for dirt-cheap solar panels, says China exec"
This is good news for the American manufacturer First Solar, which although it doesn't make silicon-based panels like the Chinese, instead going with cadmium telluride chemistry, does have to compete on the basis of the lifecycle cost of the electricity produced.

FSLR has not been doing well during the glut:

FSLR First Solar, Inc. daily Stock Chart

From Reuters, January 24:
DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - The global solar power industry is about to lose a major competitive windfall as prices of Chinese-made solar panels begin to recover after a collapse last year, the leader of one of the world’s top manufacturers said on Thursday.

“The party if definitely over,” said Eric Luo, president of China’s GCL System Integration Technology Co, a top-10 maker of solar panels, feeding the fastest-growing renewable power sector.
Solar panel prices tumbled around 30 percent last year after China, the world’s largest producer, cut subsidies to shrink its bloated solar industry, pushing smaller manufacturers to the brink of collapse.

To raise cash and stay afloat, manufacturers cleared inventory and diverted sales offshore, sending prices into a downward spiral - offering up a windfall for solar power generators and investors in solar farms.

Luo, speaking to Reuters at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos this week, said GCL’s vertically integrated business model cushioned it from the downturn in prices as its solar farms benefited from cheaper panels.

The pain will mostly be felt by smaller Chinese producers, which lack international supply chains, triggering industry consolidation or forcing them to close, he added....MORE
We have some history with this one, including pretty much the entire IPO-at-$20-to $317-top-tick glory days run. If interested use the 'search blog' box top left.
$51.94, up $2.76 (5.61%) last.
From Zacks, Feb. 19:
First Solar, Inc. (FSLR - Free Report) is scheduled to report fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 results on Feb 21, after market close. In the last reported quarter, the company delivered a positive earnings surprise of 20%.

Let's delve deep to unearth the factors likely to influence its fourth-quarter results.

Factors to Consider
On the third-quarter earnings call, First Solar announced the sale of its two projects in Japan during the fourth quarter of 2018. Also, in the fourth quarter, the company signed an agreement to sell its 100-Megawatt (MW) AC Willow Springs Solar Project in Kern County, CA to D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments.

These project sales must have boosted First Solar’s top line in the soon-to-be-reported quarter and can be expected to duly get reflected in the upcoming results. In line with this, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for First Solar’s fourth-quarter revenues is pegged at $803.5 million, reflecting 137% improvement year over year.

However, China and certain international markets have been witnessing a decline in average selling prices (ASPs) for solar modules due to oversupply across the value chain. This trend is expected to get reflected in the company’s fourth-quarter results.

Such higher sales expectations should get translated into improved bottom-line figures for First Solar in the quarter to be reported. Meanwhile, the company is witnessing production ramp up in its Ohio and Malaysia Series 6 factories, wherein throughput levels have reached 90% and 75% respectively.
This, in turn, might have boosted the company’s earnings in the soon-to-be-reported quarter.
Consequently, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for First Solar’s fourth-quarter earnings is pegged at 64 cents, mirroring a massive improvement of 356% year over year.

First Solar, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise...