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First Solar, Inc. Announces Second Quarter 2017 Financial Results

First Solar, Inc. Announces Second Quarter 2017 Financial Results

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Net sales of $623 millionNet sales of $623 millionGAAP EPS of $0.50 and non-GAAP EPS of $0.64Cash and marketable securities of $2.2 billion, net cash of $1.9 billionQuarterly bookings of 1.5GWdc and new year-to-date bookings of 2.1GWdcRaise 2017 revenue, EPS, operating cash flow and net cash guidance
First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced financial results for the second quarter of 2017. Net sales for the second quarter were $623 million, a decrease of $269 million from the prior quarter primarily due to lower systems sales, partially offset by higher third-party module sales.
The Company reported second quarter earnings of $0.50 per share, compared to earnings of $0.09 per share in the prior quarter. The second quarter was impacted by pre-tax restructuring and asset impairment charges of $18 million, related to previously announced actions. Restructuring and asset impairment charges in the first quarter were $20 million. Net income increased versus the prior quarter primarily as a result of improved gross margin and a discrete income tax benefit, partially offset by a decrease in other income. Second quarter non-GAAP earnings per share, adjusted for restructuring and asset impairment charges, were $0.64, compared to $0.25 in the first quarter.
Cash and marketable securities at the end of the second quarter decreased to $2.2 billion from $2.4 billion in the prior quarter. The decrease primarily resulted from a higher accounts receivable balance associated with the timing of certain recent module and project sales where payment is expected to be received in the third quarter. Cash flows used in operations were $168 million in the second quarter.
“We executed well in the second quarter with solid non-GAAP earnings of $0.64, record quarterly shipments of nearly 900MWdc and bookings of 1.5GWdc since our last earnings call,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar. “We are encouraged by the continuing strong demand for our Series 4 product and are focused on meeting our customers’ current needs. At the same time, our efforts to ensure the manufacturing and market readiness of Series 6 remains our highest priority. With the first Series 6 equipment being installed at our Ohio factory, and an increasing number of mid-to-late stage Series 6 bookings opportunities, we are pleased with our progress thus far.”
The Company raised its revenue, earnings per share, operating cash flow and net cash guidance for the year as a result of improved visibility into the sale of systems projects, a discrete tax benefit in the second quarter and continuing operational improvements.

2017 GuidancePrior GAAPCurrent GAAPPrior Non-GAAPCurrent Non-GAAP
Net Sales$2.85B to $2.95B$3.0B to $3.1B
Gross Margin %12.5% to 14.5%17.0% to 18.0%
Operating Expenses$360M to $405M$370M to $395M$320M to $340M$330M to $340M
Operating Income$(25M) to $40M$115M to $180M$40M to $80M$170M to $220M
Earnings per Share$(0.30) to $0.40$1.55 to $2.20$0.25 to $0.75$2.00 to $2.50
Net Cash Balance1$1.5B to $1.7B$2.1B to $2.3B
Operating Cash Flow$350M to $450M$850M to $950M
Capital Expenditures$525M to $625M$400M to $500M
Shipments2.4GW to 2.6GW2.6GW to 2.7GW

1. Defined as cash and marketable securities less expected debt at the end of 2017.  For a reconciliation of the non-GAAP measures presented above to measures presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (“GAAP”), see the tables below.
First Solar has scheduled a conference call for today, July 27, 2017, at 4:30 p.m. ET to discuss this announcement. A live webcast of this conference call is available at http://investor.firstsolar.com/events.cfm.
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 until Aug 3, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be accessed by dialing 888-203-1112 if you are calling from within the United States or 719-457-0820 if you are calling from outside the United States and entering the replay pass code 6484224. 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 www.firstsolar.com.
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. These forward-looking statements include statements, among other things, concerning: effects on our financial statements and guidance resulting from certain module manufacturing changes and associated restructuring activities; our business strategy, including anticipated trends and developments in and management plans for our business and the markets in which we operate; future financial results, operating results, revenues, gross margin, operating expenses, products, projected costs (including estimated future module collection and recycling costs), warranties, solar module technology and cost reduction roadmaps, restructuring, product reliability, investments in unconsolidated affiliates and capital expenditures; our ability to continue to reduce the cost per watt of our solar modules; the impact of public policies, such as tariffs or other trade remedies imposed on solar cells and modules; our ability to expand manufacturing capacity worldwide; our ability to reduce the costs to construct PV solar power systems; research and development programs and our ability to improve the conversion efficiency of our solar modules; sales and marketing initiatives; and competition. 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. 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. 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, the matters discussed in Item 1A “Risk Factors,” of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Non-GAAP Financial Measures
In the press release above, we provided non-GAAP earnings per share for the three months ended June 30, 2017 and March 31, 2017. We have included these non-GAAP financial measures to adjust for (i) restructuring, asset impairment and related charges primarily associated with the transition from Series 4 to Series 6 production and (ii) the tax effect associated with these items. We believe non-GAAP earnings per share, when taken together with corresponding GAAP financial measures, to be relevant and useful information to our investors because it provides them with additional information in assessing our financial operating results. Our management uses this non-GAAP financial measure in evaluating our operating performance. However, this measure has limitations, including that it excludes the effect of certain changes to our assets and liabilities and certain amounts that we may ultimately have to pay in cash. Accordingly, this non-GAAP financial measure should be considered in addition to, and not as a substitute for, or superior to earnings per share prepared in accordance with GAAP.
In the press release above, we provided non-GAAP guidance as of the date of this press release for our operating expenses, operating income and earnings per share for the year ending December 31, 2017. We have included these forward-looking non-GAAP financial measures to adjust our GAAP projections of such financial measures for, as applicable, (i) restructuring, asset impairment and related charges primarily associated with the transition from Series 4 to Series 6 production and (ii) additional restructuring activities expected during the remainder of the year. Other GAAP charges, including those related to certain asset impairments or restructuring programs, that would be excluded from non-GAAP earnings per share are possible for the periods presented, but such amounts are dependent on numerous factors that we currently cannot ascertain with sufficient certainty or are presently unknown. These GAAP charges are also dependent upon future events and valuations that have not yet occurred or been performed. We believe these forward-looking non-GAAP financial measures, when taken together with our corresponding financial guidance based on GAAP, to be relevant and useful information to our investors because they provide them with additional information in assessing our financial operating results. Our management also uses such non-GAAP guidance in evaluating our operating performance. However, such measures have limitations, including that they exclude the effect of certain changes to our assets and liabilities, certain amounts that we may ultimately have to pay in cash and certain tax impacts. Accordingly, these forward-looking non-GAAP financial measures that exclude the aforementioned items should be considered in addition to, and not as substitutes for or superior to, financial guidance based on GAAP.

 

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network

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