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FirstSolar’s Net Income Jumps More than 20-Fold in 2Q15

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Operating profit

How did FirstSolar (FSLR) perform on different profitability and cash flow measures in 2Q15? We’ll start the discussion with operating profit. FSLR’s operating income jumped to $57.1 million in 2Q15 from just $1.9 million in 2Q14 due to higher revenues and improved cost performance, as we discussed in Part 6.

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Net income

FSLR’s net income came in at $94.5 million (10.5% of sales) in 2Q15 from $4.5 million (less than 1%) in 2Q14. Apart from higher operating income, the company benefitted from higher interest income and higher income tax benefit. The company reported an income tax benefit of $33.3 million in 2Q15 against $2.2 million in 2Q14. Despite higher pre-tax profit, the company’s income tax benefit increased in 2Q15 due to a $41.7 million tax credit that the company received through a private letter ruling from the IRS.  On a per-share basis, the company’s net income came in at $0.93 in 2Q14 compared to $0.04 in 2Q14.

Cash flows

FirstSolar’s (FSLR) cash flows from operations in 2Q15 came in negative, primarily because of an increase in project assets and accrued expenses. The company is financing certain ongoing projects with its working capital, resulting in the increase in project assets.

The company received $284 million in cash through 8point3 Energy’s (CAFD) initial public offering. Of this, $239 million was treated under investing and the remainder under financing cash flows. The company reported $187.9 million and $123.0 million of investing and financing cash flows, respectively. The company spent $38.8 million on capex in 2Q15.

While FSLR reported a surge in net income, its peer (TAN) and fellow S&P 500 (SPY) constituent SunEdison (SUNE) reported a surge in losses.

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