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7 May 2014

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

For first-quarter 2014, 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 net sales of $950m, up 24% on $768m last quarter and 26% on $755.2m a year ago (and above the expected $800-900m). The increase is due mainly to achieving revenue recognition on the 139MW Campo Verde solar project near El Centro in Imperial County, CA, USA, which was constructed last year.

Fiscal Q1/2013 Q2/2013 Q3/2013 Q4/2013 Q1/2014
Revenue $755m $520m $1266m $768m $950m

Despite R&D expenses rising from $29.9m to $38.8m, total operating expenses have fallen from $108.1m a year ago to $97.4m, since selling, general & administrative (SG&A) expenses have fallen from $74.5m to $58.7m.

Operating income has risen from $61.2m a year ago and $60.3m last quarter to $139.3m. GAAP net income has risen from $59.1m ($0.66 per fully diluted share) a year ago and $65.3m ($0.64 per fully diluted share) last quarter to $112m ($1.10 per fully diluted share, above the expected $0.50-0.60), due primarily to the higher net sales, project cost improvements, and lower restructuring and asset impairment charges.

Compared with operating cash flow of +$192m last quarter, cash flow used in operations was $318m, related mainly to ongoing construction of projects that have not yet been sold. During the quarter, cash and marketable securities fell by $385m, from $1.765bn to about $1.379bn. Net cash fell from $1.5bn to $1.2bn.

Based on Q1’s results, First Solar has raised its full-year 2014 guidance for gross margin from 16-18% to 17-18%; for operating income from $270-320m to $290-340m; for earnings per fully diluted share from $2.20-2.60 to $2.40-2.80; and for operating cash flow from $250-450m to $300-500m.

“In the first quarter we demonstrated significant progress towards achieving the financial and operational targets we outlined at our recent Analyst Day,” says CEO Jim Hughes. “We delivered strong earnings in the first quarter and are increasing our financial guidance for the year based on these results. We have also made significant progress in new bookings and continue to execute on our technology roadmap."

See related items:

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

First Solar raises CdTe solar cell efficiency record to 20.4%, matching multi-crystalline silicon record

First Solar’s sales fall 31% to $520m in Q2

First Solar reports Q1 sales up 52% year-on-year to a more-than-expected $755m

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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