Shipping problems for First Solar but production line expansion is under way


U.S. thin-film solar manufacturer First Solar has announced it expects to have more cash and equivalents in the assets column at the end of the year than previously thought, even though logistics problems dragged on its third-quarter results.

Despite CEO Mark Widmar warning “extended transit times for ocean freight impacted our third-quarter results,” and net sales for the three-month period falling $46 million from Q2, to $584 million, the solar manufacturer said it now expects to have a year-end net cash balance of $1.45-1.55 billion, a range $100 million higher than previously forecast.

That may be, in part, due to a lower-than-expected 2021 capital expenditure figure which has come in from $825-875 million to $675-725 million, with First Solar reporting, in Thursday’s financial update, it began building its third factory in Ohio in the last quarter, and also started ordering equipment for its first Indian fab.

First Solar said it produced 2 GWdc of modules last quarter and pointed out the $51 million operating-income figure posted in Q3 was battered by $66 million worth of depreciation charges, $9 million related to the aforementioned production start-up costs, and another $6 million for shares compensation awards.

The other full-year forecasts made by the company remained unchanged and include an expected annual ‘gross margin’ – net sales minus the cost of producing the goods but without selling expenses, tax etc taken into account – of $695-760 million. First Solar expects full-year net sales worth $2.88-3.1 billion on the back of an anticipated 7.6-8 GW of products shipped, as previously announced.

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