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First Solar, Inc. Announces First Quarter 2021 Financial Results

April 29, 2021
  • Net sales of $803 million
  • Net income per share of $1.96
  • Cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, and marketable securities of $1.8 billion
  • YTD net bookings of 4.8 GW DC ; 2.9 GW DC since prior earnings call
  • Nameplate manufacturing capacity increased to 7.9 GW DC ; top production bin of 455 watts
  • Completed sales of U.S. project development and North American O&M businesses
  • Maintain 2021 EPS guidance of $4.05 to $4.75

TEMPE, Ariz., April 29, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021.

“We delivered strong operational and financial results for the first quarter, and demand for our Series 6 technology continues to be robust,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar. “The dedication we continue to witness from our associates enabled us to deliver module segment gross margin in line with our first quarter guidance, complete the sales of our Sun Streams 2, 4, and 5 projects, and close the U.S. project development and North American O&M sales. This, coupled with manufacturing execution, enabled us to deliver solid EPS in the first quarter.”

Net sales for the first quarter were $803 million, an increase of $194 million from the prior quarter, primarily due to an increase in systems revenue driven by U.S. project sales.

Operating income for the first quarter was $252 million, compared to $58 million in the prior quarter. First quarter operating income includes depreciation and amortization of $63 million, share-based compensation of $3 million, charges associated with the initial ramp of our new factory in Malaysia, underutilization expense, and production start-up expense totaling $16 million, and a gain on the sales of our U.S. project development and North American O&M businesses of $151 million.

Net income per share for the first quarter was $1.96, compared to net income per share of $1.08 in the prior quarter.

Cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, and marketable securities at the end of the first quarter totaled $1.8 billion, which was largely unchanged from the prior quarter. This was primarily due to proceeds from the sale of our North American O&M business and proceeds from the sale of certain securities associated with our end of life module collection and recycling program, which we intend to subsequently reinvest. This was partially offset by an increase in accounts receivable related to our U.S. project development and Sun Streams 2, 4, and 5 sales, along with operating expenses, capital expenditures, and payment of variable compensation.

2021 guidance has been updated as follows:

  Prior Current
Net Sales $2.85B to $3.0B $2.85B to $3.025B
Gross Margin ($) (1) $710M to $775M $695M to $775M
Operating Expenses (2) $285M to $300M Unchanged
Operating Income (3)(4) $545M to $640M Unchanged
Earnings per Share $4.05 to $4.75 Unchanged
Net Cash Balance (5) $1.8B to $1.9B Unchanged
Capital Expenditures $425M to $475M Unchanged
Shipments 7.8GW to 8.0GW Unchanged

(1)   Includes of $1 million of ramp related expense ($5 million to $10 million previously) and $40 million of underutilization losses (unchanged)
(2)   Includes $20 million to $25 million of production start-up expense ($15 million to $20 million previously)
(3)   Includes $61 million to $66 million of ramp expense, production start-up expense, and underutilization losses ($60 million to $70 million previously)
(4)   Includes a $151 million pre-tax gain related to the sales of the North American O&M and U.S. project development businesses ($135 million to $150 million previously)
(5)   Defined as cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, and restricted cash less expected debt at the end of 2021

Conference Call Details

First Solar has scheduled a conference call for today, April 29, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. ET, to discuss this announcement. A live webcast of this conference call and accompanying materials are available at

Investors are encouraged to listen to the conference call and to review the accompanying materials, which contain more information about First Solar’s first quarter financial results and financial outlook.

An audio replay of the conference call will be available through Thursday, May 13, 2021 and can be accessed by dialing +1 (800) 585-8367 if you are calling from within the United States or +1 (416) 621-4642 if you are calling from outside the United States and entering the replay passcode 1713277. A replay of the webcast will also be available on the Investors section of First Solar’s website approximately five hours after the conclusion of the call and remain available for 90 days.

About First Solar, Inc.

First Solar is a leading American solar technology company and global provider of responsibly-produced eco-efficient solar modules advancing the fight against climate change. Developed at R&D labs in California and Ohio, the company’s advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules represent the next generation of solar technologies, providing a competitive, high-performance, lower-carbon alternative to conventional crystalline silicon PV panels. From raw material sourcing and manufacturing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s approach to technology embodies sustainability and a responsibility towards people and the planet. For more information, 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 2021, net sales, gross margin, operating expenses, operating income, net income per share, earnings per share, net cash balance, capital expenditures, shipments, bookings, products and our business and financial objectives for 2021. 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 our forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to: structural imbalances in global supply and demand for PV solar modules; our competitive position and other key competitive factors; the market for renewable energy, including solar energy; the 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; interest rate fluctuations and both our and our customers’ ability to secure financing; our ability to execute on our long-term strategic plans; the loss of any of our large customers, or the ability of our customers and counterparties to perform under their contracts with us; our ability to execute on our solar module technology and cost reduction roadmaps; our ability to improve the wattage of our solar modules; the creditworthiness of our offtake counterparties and the ability of our offtake counterparties to fulfill their contractual obligations to us; the satisfaction of conditions precedent in our sales agreements; 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; 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 convert existing or construct production facilities to support new product lines; our ability to attract and retain key executive officers and associates; the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its potential impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations; 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

First Solar Media

(In thousands, except share data)

    March 31,
  December 31,
Current assets:        
Cash and cash equivalents   $ 972,879     $ 1,227,002  
Marketable securities (amortized cost of $562,880 and $519,844 and allowance for credit losses of $138 and $121 at March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively)   562,735     520,066  
Accounts receivable trade   795,923     269,095  
Less: allowance for credit losses   (5,827 )   (3,009 )
Accounts receivable trade, net   790,096     266,086  
Accounts receivable, unbilled   27,280     26,673  
Less: allowance for credit losses   (276 )   (303 )
Accounts receivable, unbilled, net   27,004     26,370  
Inventories   550,270     567,587  
Project assets   6,984      
Assets held for sale       155,685  
Prepaid expenses and other current assets   226,922     251,739  
Total current assets   3,136,890     3,014,535  
Property, plant and equipment, net   2,397,986     2,402,285  
PV solar power systems, net   236,416     243,396  
Project assets   284,201     373,377  
Deferred tax assets, net   106,803     104,099  
Restricted marketable securities (amortized cost of $247,628 and allowance for credit losses of $13 at December 31, 2020)       265,280  
Goodwill   14,462     14,462  
Intangible assets, net   53,404     56,138  
Inventories   205,096     201,229  
Other assets   673,652     434,130  
Total assets   $ 7,108,910     $ 7,108,931  
Current liabilities:        
Accounts payable   $ 186,087     $ 183,349  
Income taxes payable   15,351     14,571  
Accrued expenses   217,483     310,467  
Current portion of long-term debt   2,453     41,540  
Deferred revenue   206,530     188,813  
Liabilities held for sale       25,621  
Other current liabilities   41,437     83,037  
Total current liabilities   669,341     847,398  
Accrued solar module collection and recycling liability   128,135     130,688  
Long-term debt   254,447     237,691  
Other liabilities   362,207     372,226  
Total liabilities   1,414,130     1,588,003  
Commitments and contingencies        
Stockholders’ equity:        
Common stock, $0.001 par value per share; 500,000,000 shares authorized; 106,310,928 and 105,980,466 shares issued and outstanding at March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively   106     106  
Additional paid-in capital   2,853,891     2,866,786  
Accumulated earnings   2,925,433     2,715,762  
Accumulated other comprehensive loss   (84,650 )   (61,726 )
Total stockholders’ equity   5,694,780     5,520,928  
Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity   $ 7,108,910     $ 7,108,931  

(In thousands, except per share amounts)

    Three Months Ended
    March 31,
  December 31,
  March 31,
Net sales   $ 803,374     $ 609,232     $ 532,124  
Cost of sales   618,607     449,372     441,786  
Gross profit   184,767     159,860     90,338  
Operating expenses:            
Selling, general and administrative   52,087     62,700     58,587  
Research and development   19,873     22,670     25,613  
Production start-up   11,354     16,716     4,482  
Total operating expenses   83,314     102,086     88,682  
Gain on sales of businesses, net   150,895          
Operating income   252,348     57,774     1,656  
Foreign currency loss, net   (2,595 )   (1,341 )   (398 )
Interest income   956     1,446     9,330  
Interest expense, net   (2,996 )   (3,018 )   (6,789 )
Other income (expense), net   8,448     (3,279 )   (2,222 )
Income before taxes and equity in earnings   256,161     51,582     1,577  
Income tax (expense) benefit   (46,490 )   66,400     89,215  
Equity in earnings, net of tax       (2,279 )   (88 )
Net income   $ 209,671     $ 115,703     $ 90,704  
Net income per share:            
Basic   $ 1.98     $ 1.09     $ 0.86  
Diluted   $ 1.96     $ 1.08     $ 0.85  
Weighted-average number of shares used in per share calculations:            
Basic   106,088     105,976     105,595  
Diluted   106,890     106,944     106,386  


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Source: First Solar, Inc.
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