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TEMPE, Ariz., Feb. 21, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced financial results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2018. Net sales for the fourth quarter were $691 million, an increase of $15 million from the prior quarter, primarily due to the sale of certain projects in Japan.
The Company reported fourth quarter earnings per share (“EPS”) of $0.49, compared to $0.54 in the third quarter.
Cash and marketable securities at the end of the fourth quarter decreased to $2.5 billion from $2.7 billion at the end of the prior quarter. The decrease primarily resulted from capital investments in Series 6 manufacturing capacity, factory ramp activities, and the timing of cash receipts from certain systems project sales.
“We had a number of notable accomplishments in 2018, including strong net bookings of 5.6GWDC and the start of Series 6 production at three factories,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar. “Our Series 6 progress in 2019 continues to be encouraging with the start of production at a fourth factory and ongoing improvements in throughput and efficiency at our existing facilities. We continue to see good demand for Series 6, and our pipeline of contracted shipments positions us well for the year.”
2019 guidance was updated to reflect lower expected operating expenses, primarily associated with a decrease in expected production start-up. In addition, gross margin guidance was lowered by 50 basis points due to expected increases in ramp costs. These adjustments offset, and the associated EPS and net cash balance guidance ranges are unchanged. The complete 2019 guidance is as follows:
|Net Sales||$3.25B to $3.45B||Unchanged|
|Gross Margin % (1)||20% to 21%||19.5% to 20.5%|
|Operating Expenses (2)||$390M to $410M||$375M to $395M|
|Operating Income||$260M to $310M||Unchanged|
|Earnings per Share||$2.25 to $2.75||Unchanged|
|Net Cash Balance (3)||$1.6B to $1.8B||Unchanged|
|Capital Expenditures||$650M to $750M||Unchanged|
|Shipments||5.4GW to 5.6GW||Unchanged|
(1) Includes $35 to $45 million of ramp costs ($20 to $30 million previously)
(2) Includes $75 to $85 million of production start-up expense ($90 to $100 million previously)
(3) Defined as cash and marketable securities less expected debt at the end of 2019
First Solar has scheduled a conference call for today, February 21, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. ET to discuss this announcement. A live webcast of this conference call and accompanying materials are available at investor.firstsolar.com.
The guidance figures presented above are subject to a variety of assumptions and estimates. Investors are encouraged to listen to the conference call and to review the accompanying materials which contain more information about First Solar’s 2019 Guidance.
An audio replay of the conference call will also be available approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call. The audio replay will remain available through Thursday, February 28, 2019 and can be accessed by dialing 800-585-8367 if you are calling from within the United States or 416-621-4642 if you are calling from outside the United States and entering the replay pass code 7349009. A replay of the webcast will be available on the Investors section of the Company’s website approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call and will remain available for approximately 90 calendar days.
About First Solar, Inc.
First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (“PV”) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The Company's integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit www.firstsolar.com.
For First Solar Investors
This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements in this release, other than statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning: our financial guidance for 2019; the transition to Series 6 module manufacturing in 2019; net sales, gross margin, operating expenses, operating income, earnings per share, net cash balance, capital expenditures, shipments, products and our business and financial objectives for 2019. These forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of words such as “estimate,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “project,” “plan,” “intend,” “seek,” “believe,” “forecast,” “foresee,” “likely,” “may,” “should,” “goal,” “target,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “predict,” “continue” and the negative or plural of these words and other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on our current expectations and our projections about future events and therefore speak only as of the date of this release. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements for any reason, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these statements. These factors include, but are not limited to: structural imbalances in global supply and demand for PV solar modules; the market for renewable energy, including solar energy; our competitive position and other key competitive factors; reduction, elimination, or expiration of government subsidies, policies, and support programs for solar energy projects; the impact of public policies, such as tariffs or other trade remedies imposed on solar cells and modules; our ability to execute on our long-term strategic plans; our ability to execute on our solar module technology and cost reduction roadmaps; our ability to improve the conversion efficiency of our solar modules; interest rate fluctuations and both our and our customers’ ability to secure financing; our ability to attract new customers and to develop and maintain existing customer and supplier relationships; our ability to successfully develop and complete our systems business projects; our ability to convert existing production facilities to support new product lines, such as Series 6 module manufacturing; general economic and business conditions, including those influenced by U.S., international, and geopolitical events; environmental responsibility, including with respect to cadmium telluride (“CdTe”) and other semiconductor materials; claims under our limited warranty obligations; changes in, or the failure to comply with, government regulations and environmental, health, and safety requirements; effects resulting from pending litigation, including the class action lawsuit against us; future collection and recycling costs for solar modules covered by our module collection and recycling program; our ability to protect our intellectual property; our ability to prevent and/or minimize the impact of cyber-attacks or other breaches of our information systems; our continued investment in research and development; the supply and price of components and raw materials, including CdTe; our ability to attract and retain key executive officers and associates; and the matters discussed under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations” of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and our subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, as supplemented by our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
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FIRST SOLAR, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS
(In thousands, except share data)
|Cash and cash equivalents||$||1,403,562||$||2,268,534|
|Accounts receivable trade, net||128,282||211,797|
|Accounts receivable, unbilled and retainage||458,166||174,608|
|Balance of systems parts||56,906||28,840|
|Notes receivable, affiliate||—||20,411|
|Prepaid expenses and other current assets||243,061||157,902|
|Total current assets||3,859,523||3,832,772|
|Property, plant and equipment, net||1,756,211||1,154,537|
|PV solar power systems, net||308,640||417,108|
|Deferred tax assets, net||77,682||51,417|
|Restricted cash and investments||318,390||424,783|
|Equity method investments||3,186||217,230|
|Intangible assets, net||74,162||80,227|
|Notes receivable, affiliates||22,832||48,370|
|LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS’ EQUITY|
|Income taxes payable||20,885||19,581|
|Current portion of long-term debt||5,570||13,075|
|Other current liabilities||14,380||48,757|
|Total current liabilities||845,457||650,276|
|Accrued solar module collection and recycling liability||134,442||166,609|
|Commitments and contingencies|
|Common stock, $0.001 par value per share; 500,000,000 shares authorized; 104,885,261 and 104,468,460 shares issued and outstanding at December 31, 2018 and 2017, respectively||105||104|
|Additional paid-in capital||2,825,211||2,799,107|
|Accumulated other comprehensive (loss) income||(54,466||)||2,259|
|Total stockholders’ equity||5,212,403||5,098,697|
|Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity||$||7,121,362||$||6,864,501|
FIRST SOLAR, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES
CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS
(In thousands, except per share amounts)
|Three Months Ended||Year Ended|
|Cost of sales||592,931||547,093||277,111||1,851,867||2,392,377|
|Selling, general and administrative||51,338||33,539||54,997||176,857||202,699|
|Research and development||21,388||22,390||23,583||84,472||88,573|
|Restructuring and asset impairments||—||—||(1,927||)||—||37,181|
|Total operating expenses||87,302||70,652||97,141||352,064||371,096|
|Operating income (loss)||11,008||58,475||(35,071||)||40,113||177,851|
|Foreign currency gain (loss), net||1,908||(2,383||)||(3,474||)||(570||)||(9,640||)|
|Interest expense, net||(11,476||)||(3,198||)||(6,073||)||(25,921||)||(25,765||)|
|Other income (loss), net||32,102||(5,971||)||(1,215||)||39,737||23,965|
|Income (loss) before taxes and equity in earnings||48,185||63,379||(32,493||)||113,147||202,115|
|Income tax benefit (expense)||4,416||(2,396||)||(398,765||)||(3,441||)||(371,996||)|
|Equity in earnings, net of tax||(485||)||(3,233||)||(1,196||)||34,620||4,266|
|Net income (loss)||$||52,116||$||57,750||$||(432,454||)||$||144,326||$||(165,615||)|
|Net income (loss) per share:|
|Weighted-average number of shares used in per share calculations:|