February 24, 2011

First Solar, Inc. Announces Fourth Quarter and Year-end 2010 Financial Results

  • Net Sales $610 million for Q4 and $2,564 million for 2010
  • EPS $1.80 per fully diluted share for Q4 and $7.68 for 2010
  • Increased 2011 EPS guidance to $9.25 - $9.75 per fully diluted share

TEMPE, Ariz., Feb 24, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2010. Fourth quarter 2010 net sales were $610 million, a decrease of $188 million from the third quarter of 2010, primarily due to the timing of system sales and the December implementation of 2011 pricing, partially offset by an increase in volume. Quarterly net sales decreased slightly from $641 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, due to decreased systems revenue and reduced module prices, partially offset by higher volume. Net sales for the fiscal year 2010 were $2,564 million, up 24% from $2,066 million in fiscal year 2009.

Fourth quarter net income per fully diluted share was $1.80, down from $2.04 in the third quarter of 2010 and up from $1.65 in the fourth quarter of 2009. Quarter over quarter, the net income decrease was primarily driven by lower net sales and increased expenses, partially offset by higher gross margins. Year over year, the net income increase was primarily driven by higher module production and lower module cost per watt, partially offset by reduced module average selling prices and increased expenses. Fiscal 2010 net income per fully diluted share was $7.68, up from $7.53 in fiscal 2009.

First Solar achieved several milestones in 2010:

  • Module manufacturing cost for the fourth quarter was reduced to $0.75/watt, down 11% year over year
  • Line throughput was up 17% year over year to 62.6 MW; increasing operating and announced capacity to 2.9 GW by 2012
  • Module conversion efficiency rose 0.5% year over year to 11.6%
  • Exceeded 3 GW of cumulative production, and produced 1.4 GW in 2010
  • Built the largest operational solar PV plant in the world, Sarnia (Canada, 80 MW) and the largest in the U.S., Copper Mountain (Nevada, 48 MW)
  • Pending Agua Caliente (290 MW) sale to NRG; will be the largest PV facility in the world when completed in 2013
  • Acquired NextLight and Edison Mission Group to expand our North American captive project pipeline to 2.4 GW

"In the fourth quarter the operations team executed well, and we sold 400 MW of projects in North America, positioning us to achieve our 2011 growth goals," said Rob Gillette, CEO of First Solar. "We have good demand visibility in 2011 and a broader geographic reach, which gives us confidence in our ability to sell the 2 GW that we plan to produce."

For 2011, First Solar is updating guidance as follows:

  • Net sales of $3.7 to $3.8 billion
  • Operating income of $910 to $980 million
  • Earnings per fully diluted share of $9.25 to $9.75
  • Includes $60 to $70 million of manufacturing start-up expenses and $15 to $20 million of factory ramp costs
  • Total capital spending of $1.0 to $1.1 billion
  • Operating cash flow of $1.0 to $1.1 billion

First Solar will discuss these results and the outlook for 2011 in a conference call scheduled for today at 4:30 p.m. EST. Investors may access a live audio webcast of this conference call and the earnings call presentation, which includes guidance for fiscal 2011 and additional details regarding the key assumptions relating to this guidance, in the Investors section of the Company's website at www.firstsolar.com.

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 Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. EST 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 8382775. If you are a subscriber of FactSet or Thomson One, you can obtain a written transcript.

About First Solar, Inc.

First Solar manufactures solar modules with an advanced semiconductor technology and provides comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) system solutions. The company is delivering an economically viable alternative to fossil-fuel generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life collection and recycling, First Solar is focused on creating cost-effective, renewable energy solutions that protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit http://www.firstsolar.com.

For First Solar Investors:

This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. The forward-looking statements in this release do not constitute guarantees of future performance. Those statements involve a number of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially, including risks associated with the company's business involving the company's products, their development and distribution, economic and competitive factors and the company's key strategic relationships and other risks detailed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. First Solar assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking information contained in this press release or with respect to the announcements described herein.


SOURCE: First Solar, Inc.

First Solar, Inc.
Investors:
James Zhu
Interim Chief Financial Officer
Chief Accounting Officer
602-414-9315
investor@firstsolar.com
or
Larry Polizzotto
Vice President, Investor Relations
602-414-9315
lpolizzotto@firstsolar.com
or
Pam Hegarty
Director, Investor Relations
602-414-9315
phegarty@firstsolar.com
or
Media:
First Solar - (North America)
Ted Meyer or Alan Bernheimer
+1 (602) 414-9361
media@firstsolar.com
or
First Solar - (Europe)
Brandon Mitchener
+49 (0) 6131 1443-399
media-emea@firstsolar.com


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