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First Solar, Inc. Announces Fourth Quarter & Full Year 2018 Financial Results

  • Net sales of $2.2 billion for 2018 and $691 million for the fourth quarter
  • Net income per share of $1.36 for 2018 and $0.49 for the fourth quarter
  • Cash and marketable securities of $2.5 billion, net cash of $2.1 billion
  • 5.6GWDC of 2018 net bookings; 1.3GWDC of 2019 YTD net bookings
  • Series 6 production commenced at fourth factory location
  • Maintain 2019 EPS guidance of $2.25 to $2.75

/EIN News/ -- 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:

2019 Guidance Prior Current
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

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

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.


First Solar Investors
Steve Haymore

First Solar Media

(In thousands, except share data)

    December 31,
    2018   2017
Current assets:        
Cash and cash equivalents   $ 1,403,562     $ 2,268,534  
Marketable securities   1,143,704     720,379  
Accounts receivable trade, net   128,282     211,797  
Accounts receivable, unbilled and retainage   458,166     174,608  
Inventories   387,912     172,370  
Balance of systems parts   56,906     28,840  
Project assets   37,930     77,931  
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  
Project assets   460,499     424,786  
Deferred tax assets, net   77,682     51,417  
Restricted cash and investments   318,390     424,783  
Equity method investments   3,186     217,230  
Goodwill   14,462     14,462  
Intangible assets, net   74,162     80,227  
Inventories   130,083     113,277  
Notes receivable, affiliates   22,832     48,370  
Other assets   95,692     85,532  
Total assets   $ 7,121,362     $ 6,864,501  
Current liabilities:        
Accounts payable   $ 233,287     $ 120,220  
Income taxes payable   20,885     19,581  
Accrued expenses   441,580     366,827  
Current portion of long-term debt   5,570     13,075  
Deferred revenue   129,755     81,816  
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  
Long-term debt   461,221     380,465  
Other liabilities   467,839     568,454  
Total liabilities   1,908,959     1,765,804  
Commitments and contingencies        
Stockholders’ equity:        
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 earnings   2,441,553     2,297,227  
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  

(In thousands, except per share amounts)

    Three Months Ended   Year Ended
    December 31,
  September 30,
  December 31,
  December 31,
  December 31,
Net sales   $ 691,241     $ 676,220     $ 339,181     $ 2,244,044     $ 2,941,324  
Cost of sales   592,931     547,093     277,111     1,851,867     2,392,377  
Gross profit   98,310     129,127     62,070     392,177     548,947  
Operating expenses:                    
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  
Production start-up   14,576     14,723     20,488     90,735     42,643  
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 income   14,643     16,456     13,340     59,788     35,704  
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:                    
Basic   $ 0.50     $ 0.55     $ (4.14 )   $ 1.38     $ (1.59 )
Diluted   $ 0.49     $ 0.54     $ (4.14 )   $ 1.36     $ (1.59 )
Weighted-average number of shares used in per share calculations:                    
Basic   104,845     104,804     104,448     104,745     104,328  
Diluted   105,819     106,163     104,448     106,113     104,328