First Solar's (FSLR) gloomy Wednesday announcement of impending job cuts and ugly 2017 fiscal year estimates had investors scurrying away in Thursday trading and driving the shares down more than 5%.
In early afternoon trading ths shares changed hands at $31.14, down 5.1%, but off its opening low of $29.03.
The estimated $500 million-$700 million cost of restructuring and scrapping production of First Solar's Series 5 solar panels will hurt. The expected loss of about 1600 jobs, doubly so. First Solar's initial guidance for 2017 indicates expected earnings per share of breakeven to 50 cents on $2.5 to $2. 6 billion in net sales.
Why the sudden cuts?
"Too much capacity," JMP Securities analyst Joe Osha said succinctly in a phone interview. As he explained, uncertainty over whether or not the U.S. government would extend its 30% solar investment tax credit at the end of 2015 forced solar providers to pull their large projects forward.
[Disclosure: JMP makes a market in First Solar stock and expects to receive or intends to seek compensation for investment banking services from First Solar in the next three months]
The credit was extended, but the damage to the marketplace was done. A cut by the Chinese government to its solar tariff isn't helping matters either. Solar companies like Sunrun (RUN) , SolarEdge Technologies (SEDG) and Vivint Solar (VSLR) have all trended downwards this year.
First Solar's saving grace may be its large cash stockpile. The company said in its guidance that it expects to have a net cash balance between $1.4 billion and $1.6 billion at the end of the 2017 fiscal year.