First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) today updated the Company’s 2011 financial guidance and announced 2012 guidance.

First Solar now forecasts 2011 net sales in the range of $2.8 to $2.9 billion, down from the Company’s prior guidance range for net sales of $3.0 to $3.3 billion. The Company expects diluted earnings per share (EPS) for 2011 to be in the range of $5.75 to $6.00, with consolidated operating income of $575 to $600 million. The primary reason for the revised 2011 guidance is continued delays of certain projects in First Solar’s systems business due to weather and other factors.

Not included in the revised guidance are expected charges related to a series of initiatives to accelerate operating cost reductions and improve overall operating efficiency, the majority of which the Company expects to incur in the current quarter. These charges include up to $0.75 per fully diluted share of impairment and associated charges primarily related to certain equipment, and a severance charge of up to $0.10 per fully diluted share related to a workforce reduction of approximately 100 associates, less than 1.5 percent of First Solar’s workforce.

For 2012, First Solar forecasts net sales in the range of $3.7 to $4.0 billion, including approximately $1.7 billion from the systems business. Diluted EPS is expected to be in the range of $3.75 to $4.25, and consolidated operating income is expected to be $425 to $450 million. The Company expects to generate $0.9 to $1.1 billion of operating cash flow and plans for approximately $375-$425 million in capital investment in 2012.

“Our diverse business model and robust project pipeline will help First Solar generate a significant amount of cash in 2012 while improving operational efficiencies, but we are recalibrating our business to focus on building and serving sustainable markets rather than pursuing subsidized markets,” said Mike Ahearn, Chairman and Interim CEO of First Solar. “By channeling our core strength in utility-scale PV systems to markets with immediate need for mass-scale renewable energy our goal is to earn substantially all of our new revenues from sustainable markets by the end of 2014."

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