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25 February 2015

First Solar's revenue grows 13.4% in Q4 to $1bn

First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, USA - which makes thin-film photovoltaic modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) services - has reported full-year net sales growth of 2.5% from $3.309bn for 2013 to $3.392bn in 2014 (below the revised guidance of $3.6-3.9bn).

Fiscal Q4/2013 Q1/2014 Q2/2014 Q3/2014 Q4/2014
Revenue $768m $950m $544m $889m $1008m

For fourth-quarter 2014, net sales were $1008m, up 13.4% on $889m last quarter (due to the sale of the Solar Gen 2 project, initial revenue recognition on the Silver State South project, and other projects under construction) and up 31.2% on $768.4m a year ago. Revenue recognition from the Desert Sunlight and Topaz projects were lower as the projects reached completion.

For fourth-quarter 2014, net income was $192m ($1.89 per fully diluted share), more than doubling from $88.4m ($0.87 per fully diluted share) last quarter (due to higher profit from the sale of the Solar Gen 2 project and project cost improvements) and almost tripling from $65.3m ($0.64 per fully diluted share) a year ago. Full-year net income has grown from $353m ($3.70 per fully diluted share) in 2013 to $396.9m ($3.91 per fully diluted share) to 2014.

Compared with $47m of cash flow used in operations last quarter, in Q4/2014 cash flow generated from operations was $928m, up from $192m a year ago. However, this was due largely to the sale of the Solar Gen 2 project and the collection of retention payments on the Topaz and Desert Sunlight projects. Cash and marketable securities hence rose by $876m during the quarter to about $1.991bn. Net cash was $1.8bn.

"We have exceeded the earnings per share, operating cash flow and bookings targets that we set at our 2014 Analyst Day," notes CEO Jim Hughes. "In addition, we have announced another new record cell efficiency [of 21.5% in February]," he adds.

Full-year order bookings have grown by 46% from 1.7GWDC in 2013 to 2.5GWDC in 2014. Year-to-date bookings in 2015 so far are 311MWDC. "With our strong bookings, we are well positioned as we enter 2015 and remain focused on executing to our strategy," says Hughes. 

First Solar has also announced that it is in advanced negotiations to form a joint YieldCo vehicle with SunPower Corp into which each company expects to contribute a portfolio of selected solar generation assets from their existing portfolio of assets. Additional details about the joint venture will be provided when they become available.

For first-quarter 2015, First Solar expects net sales of $550-650m, and a net loss of $0.25-0.35 per fully diluted share. Cash used in operating activities should be $400-500m. Guidance for revenue, earnings and operating cash flow is lower due primarily to completion of the Desert Sunlight and Topaz projects and the retention of projects on the balance sheet in relation to the plan to pursue a joint YieldCo vehicle with SunPower. This is also expected to weigh on financial results in future quarters over the near-term. However, First Solar believes this strategy will generate significant value for shareholders over the long-term.

See related items:

First Solar raises its CdTe PV cell conversion efficiency record to 21.5%

First Solar's revenue grows 63% in Q3 to $889m

First Solar's Q2 sales up 4.6% year-on-year, despite 43% dip from Q1

First Solar's sales rise 24% in Q1 to $950m

First Solar's sales fall 28% year-on-year to $768m in Q4

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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