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First Solar Posts Fourth-Quarter Profit but Misses Expectations

First Solar swings to profit but misses expectations amid a 'very challenging year.'
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First Solar  (FSLR) - Get First Solar Inc. Report swung to a fourth-quarter profit but fell short of Wall Street's expectations as the solar-energy company contended with "a very challenging year."

The Tempe, Ariz., company's shares at last check were little changed. They finished the regular Thursday trading session down 7.5% at $81.40

First Solar reported net income of $115.7 million, or $1.08 a share, compared with a loss of $59.4 million, or 56 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter. 

Net sales for the fourth quarter were $609 million, compared with $1.4 billion a year earlier.

The FactSet analyst consensus called for earnings of $1.24 a share on revenue of $715 million.

“Despite continued intense competition across the crystalline PV supply chain, and unforeseen challenges related to the pandemic, we are pleased with our financial and operational results in 2020," Chief Executive Mark Widmar said in a statement. 

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Looking ahead, the company called for 2021 net income to range from $4.05 to $4.75 per share as sales range from $2.85 billion to $3 billion.

The FactSet consensus is forecasting earnings of $3.56 a share, or an adjusted $3.50, on revenue of $3 billion.

At Dec. 31 First Solar had cash, restricted cash and marketable securities on hand to $1.8 billion and net cash of $1.5 billion.

Last month, First Solar said it was selling most of its U.S. project development platform to the Dallas renewable energy company Leeward Renewable Energy. 

Leeward is adding solar panels to its portfolio of 21 wind farms across nine states that generate about 2,000 megawatts of capacity.

“As one of the few solar companies that both entered and exited this last decade, and the only U.S.-headquartered company among the 10 largest [photovoltaic] module manufacturers globally, we have continued to adapt our business model to remain competitive and differentiated in a constantly evolving market," Widmar said.