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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of First Solar (FSLR) were gaining 3.7% to $52.37 Monday after the company announced it set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) module conversion efficiency.

First Solar said it achieved 18.6% aperture efficiency for an advanced full size module. The company said it "demonstrated a record module that is more efficient than the best multi-crystalline module recorded" for the first time.

The record was measured and certified by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The 18.6% aperture are efficiency corresponds to a full area conversion efficiency of 18.2%.

"First Solar's CdTe thin film is now rightly categorized as a high performance product," CTO Raffi Garabedian said. "At one time, we might have been characterized as a low cost, low efficiency technology, but consistent with our technology projections we are now proving that CdTe thin film delivers both industry-leading performance AND sustainable thin-film cost structures."

TheStreet Ratings team rates FIRST SOLAR INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate FIRST SOLAR INC (FSLR) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and reasonable valuation levels. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • FSLR's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.05 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, FSLR has a quick ratio of 1.97, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • FSLR, with its very weak revenue results, has greatly underperformed against the industry average of 0.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues plummeted by 50.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to -$417.92 million or 31.34% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing to the industry average, the firm's growth rate is much lower.
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. In comparison to the other companies in the Semiconductors & Semiconductor Equipment industry and the overall market, FIRST SOLAR INC's return on equity is significantly below that of the industry average and is below that of the S&P 500.
  • ou can view the full analysis from the report here: FSLR Ratings Report