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First Solar Second Quarter Earnings Following Downward Trend

A leading provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems, First Solar, announced Tuesday their second quarter financial results, revealing figures which seem to be predicting a current downward trend in the solar industry.

According to their figures, First Solar’s net sales were down to $544 million in the second quarter, a decrease of $406 million from the first quarter of 2014.

“The sequential decrease in net sales is primarily attributable to achieving revenue recognition on our Campo Verde project in the prior quarter and project delays in the second quarter which resulted in the deferral of some revenue recognition to the second half of the year,” the company wrote in their press release.

However, project delays could be the name of the game for the next little while if recent US trade tariffs are representative of the whole. The US Department of Commerce recently imposed hefty anti-subsidy and anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese and Taiwanese solar cell and module imports, which could see 3 GW worth of existing solar PV projects stranded for the time being.

The news wasn’t good for solar panel manufacturer SunPower either, who announced their own second quarter financial results, revealing a similar lull in second quarter earnings.

Nevertheless, First Solar remains confident.

“While project delays in Q2 resulted in deferring some earnings to later in the year we remain on track to our financial targets for the year and reaffirm our full-year 2014 EPS and operating cash flow guidance,” said Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar. “In addition I am proud of the execution by the organization as demonstrated by a new record cell efficiency and new bookings of over 800MWdc.”

First Solar reported quarter GAAP earnings per fully diluted share of $0.04, down from a much healthier $1.10 in the previous quarter. Decreases were common across the board for the company, who are still holding to their guidance of $2.40 to $2.80 per share on the basis that “the construction progress and sales process related to certain utility scale power plants” remains on track.

And while First Solar announced a new record cell efficiency of 21.0% — an improvement on the previous record of 20.4% announced earlier this year — it may not be enough to assuage investor fear moving forward.

Governmental policy shifts and tariff impacts could have significant influence throughout the next two quarters as the US deals with Chinese and Taiwanese imports and governments around the world determine just how to help or hinder the solar industry.

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