First Solar Reports Expected Weak 2nd Quarter As Series 6 Production Ramps Up

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Leading US solar manufacturer First Solar reported its second-quarter earnings in late July, which showed revenue of only $309 million, down $258 million from the previous quarter due to expected lower system and third-party module sales.

First Solar was able to start 2018 off with a bang, with reported sales of $567 million in the first quarter and the promise of beginning production of its new Series 6 modules in April, which was bolstered by the announcement of a new solar manufacturing plant in Perrysburg, Ohio.

“Our first quarter earnings and continued bookings momentum provide a positive start to the year,” said the company’s CEO, Mark Widmar, in May.

“Our earnings for the quarter were supported by the sale of both domestic and international projects, combined with efficient management of core operating expenses. Customer demand for our Series 6 product continues to be strong as evidenced by our year-to-date net bookings of 3.3GWDC.

“We also achieved significant technology milestones this month with the start of Series 6 production in Ohio and the first commercial module shipments to systems projects. We remain focused on leveraging the advantages of our differentiated technology and applying our disciplined operating approach to achieve our near-term and long-term priorities.”

However, the second quarter was less dramatic and in fact saw revenue fall by $258 million to a total of $309 million for the quarter. Cash and marketable securities totaled $3.1 billion, driven primarily by proceeds stemming from the sale of First Solar’s interests in 8point3 Energy Partners but partially offset by ongoing capital investment in its Series 6 manufacturing capacity. First Solar also held $2.7 billion in net cash. So far this year, the company has booked a total of 4.1 gigawatts (GW) and 0.9 GW in the second quarter.

More importantly, from the company’s long-term point of view, Series 6 commercial shipments began from its Malaysia factory during the second quarter.

“We have taken another important step forward in our Series 6 transition with the first commercial shipments from our Malaysia factory,” said Mark Widmar.

“With two factories now producing Series 6 modules and a third factory on the cusp of starting production we have made significant progress during the past quarter. Customer demand for our Series 6 product continues to be solid with nearly 900 megawatts of new contracts signed since our last earnings update.  With year-to-date bookings of 4.1GWDC and total contracted volume of 10.9GWDC that extends to the end of 2020, we continue to have good visibility to future demand.”

Earnings per share for the quarter were -$0.46, missing analyst expectations by $0.48 and causing the company’s shares to promptly fall off a cliff. However, in the days since the company’s announcement, its shares have essentially returned to where they started only a few days ago, held in place by the company’s long-term confidence. And while First Solar was forced to update its 2018 guidance “to reflect a narrower expected range of net sales and a decrease in gross margin due to near-term increases in Series 6 module cost per watt,” overall the company sits relatively steady to move forward.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

CleanTechnica Holiday Wish Book

Holiday Wish Book Cover

Click to download.

Our Latest EVObsession Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

Joshua S Hill has 4403 posts and counting. See all posts by Joshua S Hill