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First Solar Posts Profit, Shares Plunge 10% On Weak Outlook

First Solar Posts Profit, Shares Plunge 10% On Weak Outlook
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2/26/2013 5:22 PM ET

Shares of First Solar Inc. (FSLR: Quote) plunged over ten percent in after hours Tuesday after detailing a weak outlook for the first quarter, which is expected to come in short of Wall Street expectations.

Nevertheless, the solar panel maker reported a swing to profit in the fourth quarter from a loss last year, helped mainly by higher sales and lower restructuring and impairment charges.

First Solar expects first-quarter earnings of $0.70 to $0.90 per share and sales of $650 million to $750 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters currently expect earnings of $0.94 per share on revenues of $828.95 million for the quarter.

First Solar has been struggling lately like its peers, as solar panel prices continues to decline due to oversupply and weak demand. Meanwhile, the company has turned its focus on building solar farms on its own rather than selling solar panels to other companies.

Chief Executive Jim Hughes said, "We expect the market will remain turbulent for some time to come, but we have seen some evidence of improvement and believe we have the right strategy in place to retain our industry leadership by providing the best value for our customers."

First Solar, which makes thin-film solar modules, said sales for the three-month period surged to $1.08 billion from $660.35 million a year ago. Analysts expected revenues of $1.32 billion for the fourth quarter.

Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar reported a fourth-quarter profit of $154.2 million or $1.74 per share, compared to a loss of $413.1 million or $4.78 per share last year.

The fourth quarter results recorded restructuring charges of $25 million, while last year's results included goodwill impairment and restructuring charges of $454 million.

Excluding special items, adjusted earnings for the quarter improved to $2.04 per share from $1.26 per share last year. Analysts expected earnings of $1.76 per share for the fourth quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

FSLR closed Tuesday's trading at $31.36, down $1.38 or 4.22%, on the Nasdaq. The stock further lost $3.22 or 10.27% in after hours trade.

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by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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