First Solar earnings: strong results, Q4 guidance reinstated and a 445 W module on the way


In what has been a turbulent and uncertain year, First Solar has posted another another impressive fiscal quarter, including the reinstatement of the company’s financial guidance for Q4 2020 and, by extension, full-year 2020 guidance.

First Solar was able to go beyond just weathering the economic and manufacturing slowdowns that came with the pandemic successfully, sharing that “the Company and its financial results have not been materially impacted by Covid-19.”

As for the financial highlights of the quarter:

  • Net sales of $928 million, up from $642 million in Q2 2020 and $547 million in Q3 2019
  • Net income per share of $1.45, a nearly 300% increase over Q2’s $0.35 and higher still over Q3 2019’s $0.29
  • Net cash of $1.4 billion
  • 1.6 GW DC of bookings since prior earnings call
  • Strong fleet-wide capacity utilization averaging over 100% at all factories
  • The aforementioned reinstatement of financial guidance for the fourth quarter 2020

Additionally, on the earnings report call, it was shared that the company has started production of a 445 W module, though no further details were given. The company also expects to see record efficiency in the near future, though it was not specified if that would be at the cell or module level.

Series 6

While not touched upon during the results call, First Solar made a significant accomplishment with the Series 6 module line during Q3, as the line was the world’s first PV product to be included in the launch of the EPEAT Photovoltaic and Inverters product category.

EPEAT is a life-cycle based Type-1 ecolabel used by public and private sector purchasers to allow for easy identification of credibly sustainable electronic products.

Series 6 was awarded an EPEAT Silver rating, based on criteria that look at the product’s life cycle, including managing substances in the product, manufacturing energy and water use, product packaging, end-of-life recycling, and overall corporate responsibility of the manufacturer.

To be the first PV product included in the new EPEAT PV Modules and Inverters category, First Solar Series 6 sustainability benefits were verified by a reputable third-party international certification firm. According to First Solar, the Series 6’s carbon footprint that is up to six times lower than comparable crystalline silicon PV panels, with its water footprint being up to 24 times lower.

Looking forward

After providing an outlook for the rest of 2020 in Q3, the First Solar has now provided one specifically for Q4 2020 and an overall update, which points to a successful close-out of 2020.

The company expects Q4 net sales of $540M to $790M, projecting for a full year mark between $2.6 and $2.9 billion. Earnings per share are expected to be between $1.00 and $1.50 on the quarter and $3.65 to $4.15 on the year. As for shipments, those are expected to be between 1.8 and 2.0 GW on the quarter and 5.5 to 5.7GW on the year.

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