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First Solar’s stock sinks on 1Q revenue letdown

April 27, 2016

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — First Solar generated a first-quarter profit that exceeded analysts’ projections, but the solar power provider jolted investors with a disappointing sales performance.

The numbers released late Wednesday caused First Solar’s stock to fall $3.88, or more than 6 percent, to $58.15 in extended trading.

The largest U.S. solar company earned $170.6 million, or $1.66 per share, during the first three months of the year. That compared to a loss of $60.9 million, or 61 cents per share, at the same time last year.

The earnings per share surpassed the average estimate of 91 cents among analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

Investors seemed more concerned about First Solar’s revenue, which surged 81 percent from last year to $848 million. Despite the big increase, it was a letdown from the revenue target of $962 million set by the analysts who help set investors’ expectations.

The company’s first-quarter revenue also was nearly $100 million below its revenue during the final three months of last year, a sharp downturn that most investors evidently didn’t foresee.

First Solar Inc. blamed the quarter-to-quarter decline on delays affecting when it can book revenue on “multiple projects.”

The Tempe, Arizona, company reaffirmed its earlier forecast for 2016 revenue of $3.8 billion to $4 billion, signaling it still expects to record some of the sales that didn’t show up in the first quarter, as Wall Street anticipated.

Besides releasing its first-quarter report, First Solar also announced that CEO James Hughes is stepping down at the end of June. He will be replaced by Mark Widmar, First Solar’s chief financial officer since 2011.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research.

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