First Solar Earnings to Shine a Light on Slow Progress

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- First Solar (FSLR) reports first quarter earnings after the bell and will be looking to impress investors with recent projects, while following up on its promising move into new technology and key points outlined during its analysts' day.

A consensus of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg is looking for First Solar to report adjusted earnings of 53 cents a share on sales of $837.8 million. The company in March offered full-year guidance between $2.20 and $2.60 a share.

In 2013, First Solar purchased TetraSun, a maker of silicon-based photovoltaics, to accelerate its movement toward that technology and to enhance its ability to push into the residential installation market. First Solar's business was built on thin-film photovoltaics, which are cheaper but also less energy efficient. Leaps in the silicon technology are bringing down costs, giving them a promising future in both industry-scale and residential projects. Meanwhile, First Solar also reports new efficiency records for its thin-film pvs.

On Tuesday, First Solar announced a partnership with EDF Renewable Energy to build a 19.76 MW solar project in Kings County, Ariz., which will supply energy to Pacific Gas and Electric, and two sites for a second, 23 MW project, with one site in Kings County and the other in Kern County, producing power for Marin Clean Energy. Both use the company thin-film pvs.

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First Solar has also said, during its analysts' day, that it is making a push into residential installations through its acquisition of TetraSun and into international markets. The company's emphasis has been on domestic utilities-scale projects. This earnings report and conference call should offer an opportunity to see the company's progress and projections for the rest of the year on those two areas.

However, as one analyst that spoke with TheStreet Tuesday put it, the company's accomplishments in those areas are "more of a process than an event." The ground the company is gaining in efficiency for both thin-film and silicon pvs is perhaps the most exciting area, but the results won't come suddenly, but will only unfold over time.

The biggest point to take away will be any news of obstacles that appear to hamper that long-term unfolding of growth.

In the last hour of trading, shares of First Solar were down 1.3% at $67.53.

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-- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in New York

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