NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of First Solar (FSLR) are surging, up 6.53% to $58.27 in mid-morning trading Wednesday, after the solar equipment maker was upgraded to "neutral" from "underperform" by analysts at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch following the the release of its fourth quarter earnings report.
First Solar reported earnings of $1.89 per share for the fourth quarter, crushing analysts' estimates of 76 cents per share. Profit nearly tripled from the 64 cents per share the company posted a year ago.
However, revenue of $1.008 billion came in below analysts' estimates of $1.275 billion.
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First Solar said earnings in 2015 would be impacted by the retention of some solar projects on its balance sheet.
The solar panel maker announced it is planning to start a new company with SunPower (SPWR) and plans to eventually go public.
Earlier this month, First Solar also announced that Apple (APPL) committed $848 million in clean energy from the company's 2,900-acre California Flats solar project.
Tempe, AZ-based First Solar manufactures and sells photovoltaic solar modules with an advanced thin-film semiconductor technology. The company also designs, constructs, and sells solar power systems.
Separately, 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."