U.S. solar panel maker First Solar Inc. (FSLR: Quote) said Wednesday after the markets closed that its second quarter profit jumped 82% from last year, as sales surged due to an increase in the number and size of projects under construction.
The company's quarterly earnings per share also breezed past Wall Street expectations as did its quarterly sales.
At the same time, the company raised its full year sales and earnings outlook due to reductions in its ongoing cost structure.
"Despite market uncertainties, First Solar delivered strong performance in the quarter," said Jim Hughes, CEO. "We believe that by executing our strategic roadmaps and completing our restructuring program we can achieve our targets of 2.6 to 3.0 GW of sales in sustainable markets, earning a return on invested capital of 13 to 17 percent by 2016."
Separately, First Solar said that CEO James Hughes has been elected to its board of directors. Hughes was appointed CEO in May, succeeding Mike Ahearn, the company's founder and Chairman, who had been serving as interim CEO since October 2011. Hughes joined First Solar in March as Chief Commercial Officer.
First Solar shares are currently gaining 13.24% in after hours trading after closing the day's regular trading session at $14.80, down 74 cents or 4.76%. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $11.43 to $116.35.
First Solar and other solar panel manufacturers have been struggling recently, as a global oversupply of solar panels and weakened demand have driven prices lower.
First Solar said in April that it will close its manufacturing plant in Germany and indefinitely idle four production lines at its plant in Malaysia, as part of its efforts to reduce costs amid deteriorating market conditions in Europe. The restructuring would reduce the solar panel maker's global workforce by about 2,000 positions, or about 30% of the total.
For the second quarter ended June 30, 2012, the Tempe, Arizona-based company reported net income of $111.0 million or $1.27 per share, compared to $61.1 million or $0.70 per share for the year-ago quarter.
The latest quarter results include charges of $0.39 per share relating to restructuring and certain costs in excess of normal warranty.
On average, 31 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $0.90 per share for the second quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
Net sales for the second quarter surged 80% to $957.33 million from $532.77 million in the same quarter last year. Thirty analysts had a consensus revenue estimate of $819.89 million for the second quarter.
Based on reductions in the company's ongoing cost structure mainly related to its restructuring initiatives, First Solar raised its 2012 net sales guidance to a range of $3.6 billion to $3.9 billion from its previous guidance of $3.5 billion to $3.8 billion and adjusted earnings guidance to a range of $4.20 to $4.70 per share from its prior guidance of $4.00 to $4.50 per share.
Analysts currently expect the company to earn $3.95 per share on revenue of $3.48 billion for the full year 2012.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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