First Solar’s Results: Q4 Profit Fell but 2019 Guidance Is Intact

First Solar (FSLR) released its fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 earnings on February 21.

Vineet Kulkarni - Author

Feb. 22 2019, Updated 8:28 a.m. ET

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Missed earnings and revenue estimates

Solar energy solutions provider First Solar (FSLR) released its fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 earnings on February 21. It reported earnings of $0.49 per share, missing consensus estimates for the quarter, which ended December 31. In the same quarter of 2017, it reported earnings of $0.54 per share.

On the revenues front, First Solar posted notable growth in Q4 but missed analysts’ estimates. The company reported total revenues of $691 million in Q4 2018 against $339 million in Q4 2017. In Q3 2018, First Solar’s revenues came in at $676 million.

First Solar stock has had a solid start to 2019. It is up more than 22%, mirroring solar stocks (TAN) at large.

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Earnings highlights

What might concern investors is its top-line fall for the full year. For fiscal 2018, it reported total revenues of $2.24 billion, a decrease of 24% YoY. Earnings for the full year of 2018 came in at $1.36 per share against a loss of $1.59 per share in 2017.

Despite lower-than-expected Q4 numbers, First Solar has kept its guidance intact for 2019. It projects revenues in the range of $3.25 billion to $3.45 billion, while EPS is expected in the range of $2.25 to $2.75 per share for 2019. However, it has cut its guidance for gross margin from 20%–21% earlier to 19.5%–20.5% for 2019 largely due to expected higher ramp-up costs.

Peer SunPower (SPWR) reported its earnings last week. SunPower’s loss widened in fiscal 2018. The company reported a loss of $0.72 per share in 2018 compared to a loss of $0.25 per share in 2017.

Read How Institutional Investors Played First Solar in Q4 for more information.


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