First Solar posts net loss, 51% revenue decline in Q1


First Solar on Thursday posted $62.3 million net loss in the first quarter of the year as revenue dropped 51% year on year to $469 million.

The company’s substantial net loss followed a $192 million profit in the fourth quarter of 2014 and a decline from $112 million a year ago.

The company attributed the major drop in sales, which fell 53% sequentially, to the retention of projects for the recently launched 8point3 Energy Partners yieldco joint venture with SunPower Corp., which would have otherwise generated revenue for the company. In addition, First Solar said delays on multiple projects in the current quarter, a higher mix of module only sales and the sale of the SolarGen 2 project in the prior quarter contributed to the lower revenue.

“As anticipated, the first quarter was a transitional period as we executed on our plans to form 8point3 Energy Partners,” said First Solar CEO Jim Hughes.

The company reported a first-quarter loss per fully diluted share of $0.62, compared to earnings of $1.89 in the prior quarter. It attributed the net loss to lower revenue, the mix of systems projects under construction and a higher proportion of module only and module plus sales.

Hughes added that First Solar continued to enhance the overall strength of its business with the company’s lead line now running at 16.3% efficiency and its new alliance with Caterpillar.

First Solar and Caterpillar have agreed to partner on the development of an integrated PV solar solution for micro-grid applications. First Solar will design and manufacture a pre-engineered turnkey package for use in remote micro-grid applications, such as in small communities and mining sites.

In addition, the company reported 593 MW of new bookings, bringing its year-to-date bookings to 905 MW.

Looking forward, First Solar is expecting second-quarter sales of between $750 and $850 million and earnings per share at between $0.45 and $0.55, including a non-recurring tax benefit of some $0.40.