Solar-panel maker First Solar ( FSLR) saw its profit nearly triple in the first quarter, despite a crunch in lending that made it difficult to fill orders.

The news sent shares up 9% in aftermarket trading to $165.51.

The company said it earned $164.6 million, or $1.99 per share, in the first quarter, compared with $46.6 million, or 57 cents per share, for the same period last year. Analysts were expecting earnings of $1.50 a share.

Sales soared to $418.2 million from $196.9 million last year.

A favorite among alternative power investors, First Solar established a cost structure and pricing that ensure respectable profits for itself and pure misery for its rivals, according to Tuesday's RealMoney.com report.

The report argues that First Solar has a decent chance of upward estimate revisions throughout the year, while its peers will likely see their estimates reduced. It says rivals, like SunPower ( SPWRA), which produces at higher costs, must slash prices if they want to retain market share.
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