Thin-film solar panel maker First Solar Inc. (FSLR: Quote) reported a 14% increase in third quarter profit that beat estimates, driven by higher module production, lower cost per watt and increased system sales, offset partially by reduced module average selling prices. Looking ahead, First Solar raised its annual earnings and sales forecast from its prior level.
The Tempe, Arizona-based company's third-quarter net income rose to $176.87 million or $2.04 per share from $153.34 million or $1.79 per share in the same quarter a year ago. When compared sequentially, profit was up 11.2%.
On average, forty-one analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $1.95 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude one-time items.
Quarterly results included a one-time tax expense of $0.17 per share relating to decision to repatriate $300 million of earnings from some of its foreign subsidiaries.
Net sales increased 65.9% to $797.90 million, beating Street estimates of $778.76 million, helped by increased systems revenue and module production volumes, partially offset by a decline in module average selling prices and lower blended euro exchange rates. When compared sequentially, sales were up 35.7%.
Operating expenses increased to $110.25 million from $82.20 million in the comparable quarter a year ago.
Rob Gillette, CEO of First Solar, said, "Our investment in research and development combined with plans to nearly double our manufacturing capacity will help us meet robust customer demand while continuing to drive down the cost of solar power."
Looking ahead to full year 2010, the company said it now expects earnings in a range of $7.50 to $7.65 per share, up from the prior range of $7.00 to $7.40 per share. Analysts' currently expects earnings of $7.46 per share for the quarter.
Net sales is now expected to be in a range of $2.58 billion - $2.61 billion, up from the prior range of $2.5 billion - $2.6 billion. Street analysts' currently expects sales of $2.58 billion for the quarter.
FSLR closed Thursday's regular trading at $151.15, up $0.85 or 0.57%, on a volume of 2.15 million shares. In after-hours, the stock dropped $10.10 or 6.68%, to trade at $141.05. In the last 52-week period, the stock traded in a range of $98.71 - $154.37, with a three-month average volume of 1.49 million shares.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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