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First Solar Earnings: A Mixed Bag

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Mimicking the overall solar industry this year, thin film solar darling First Solar (s FSLR), delivered a solidly mixed bag for its quarterly earnings today. The solar stock bellwether announced quarterly earnings this afternoon with sales that topped expectations, and a raised earnings guidance for the year, but at the same time saw a drop in profits for the quarter and a lowered revenue guidance for the year.

First Solar said it earned $159 million, or $1.84 a share, for the quarter, down from $180.6 million, or $2.11 a share, a year earlier. Quarterly revenues generated $587.9 million, up 12 percent from the $525.9 million that came in in the second quarter of 2009. First Solar revenues were up “due to increased production volumes and systems revenue,” but were “partially offset by a decline in pricing and lower euro exchange rates.” The company cited a lower average selling price of solar modules and higher operating expenses for its drop in profit.

First Solar’s updated guidance for earnings for 2o1o were $7 to $7.40 a share, up from the last guidance of $6.80 to $7.30. Revenue guidance, however, was cut by $100 million to $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion, down from the previous revenue guidance of $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion. First Solar’s stock dropped to $130.50 in aftermarket trading.

The entire solar industry has been caught in a foggy cloud this year. As Lux Research analyst Ted Sullivan predicted last year, an oversupply in the solar market has been looming for some time, and that has been accelerated by the economic crisis. At the same time new technology, and economies of scale are also helping solar makers reduce costs.

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Green IT Overview, Q2 2010