First Solar, Inc. Announces First Quarter 2021 Financial Results

  • Net sales of $803 million
  • Net income per share of $1.96
  • Cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, and marketable securities of $1.8 billion
  • YTD net bookings of 4.8 GWDC; 2.9 GWDC since prior earnings call
  • Nameplate manufacturing capacity increased to 7.9 GWDC; top production bin of 455 watts
  • Completed sales of U.S. project development and North American O&M businesses
  • Maintain 2021 EPS guidance of $4.05 to $4.75

TEMPE, Ariz., April 29, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2021.

“We delivered strong operational and financial results for the first quarter, and demand for our Series 6 technology continues to be robust,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar. “The dedication we continue to witness from our associates enabled us to deliver module segment gross margin in line with our first quarter guidance, complete the sales of our Sun Streams 2, 4, and 5 projects, and close the U.S. project development and North American O&M sales. This, coupled with manufacturing execution, enabled us to deliver solid EPS in the first quarter.”

Net sales for the first quarter were $803 million, an increase of $194 million from the prior quarter, primarily due to an increase in systems revenue driven by U.S. project sales.

Operating income for the first quarter was $252 million, compared to $58 million in the prior quarter. First quarter operating income includes depreciation and amortization of $63 million, share-based compensation of $3 million, charges associated with the initial ramp of our new factory in Malaysia, underutilization expense, and production start-up expense totaling $16 million, and a gain on the sales of our U.S. project development and North American O&M businesses of $151 million.

Net income per share for the first quarter was $1.96, compared to net income per share of $1.08 in the prior quarter.

Cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, and marketable securities at the end of the first quarter totaled $1.8 billion, which was largely unchanged from the prior quarter. This was primarily due to proceeds from the sale of our North American O&M business and proceeds from the sale of certain securities associated with our end of life module collection and recycling program, which we intend to subsequently reinvest. This was partially offset by an increase in accounts receivable related to our U.S. project development and Sun Streams 2, 4, and 5 sales, along with operating expenses, capital expenditures, and payment of variable compensation.

2021 guidance has been updated as follows:

Net Sales$2.85B to $3.0B$2.85B to $3.025B
Gross Margin ($) (1)$710M to $775M$695M to $775M
Operating Expenses (2)$285M to $300MUnchanged
Operating Income (3)(4)$545M to $640MUnchanged
Earnings per Share$4.05 to $4.75Unchanged
Net Cash Balance (5)$1.8B to $1.9BUnchanged
Capital Expenditures$425M to $475MUnchanged
Shipments7.8GW to 8.0GWUnchanged

(1)   Includes of $1 million of ramp related expense ($5 million to $10 million previously) and $40 million of underutilization losses (unchanged)
(2)   Includes $20 million to $25 million of production start-up expense ($15 million to $20 million previously)
(3)   Includes $61 million to $66 million of ramp expense, production start-up expense, and underutilization losses ($60 million to $70 million previously)
(4)   Includes a $151 million pre-tax gain related to the sales of the North American O&M and U.S. project development businesses ($135 million to $150 million previously)
(5)   Defined as cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, and restricted cash less expected debt at the end of 2021

Conference Call Details

First Solar has scheduled a conference call for today, April 29, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. ET, to discuss this announcement. A live webcast of this conference call and accompanying materials are available at

Investors are encouraged to listen to the conference call and to review the accompanying materials, which contain more information about First Solar’s first quarter financial results and financial outlook.

An audio replay of the conference call will be available through Thursday, May 13, 2021 and can be accessed by dialing +1 (800) 585-8367 if you are calling from within the United States or +1 (416) 621-4642 if you are calling from outside the United States and entering the replay passcode 1713277. A replay of the webcast will also be available on the Investors section of First Solar’s website approximately five hours after the conclusion of the call and remain available for 90 days.

About First Solar, Inc.

First Solar is a leading American solar technology company and global provider of responsibly-produced eco-efficient solar modules advancing the fight against climate change. Developed at R&D labs in California and Ohio, the company’s advanced thin film photovoltaic (PV) modules represent the next generation of solar technologies, providing a competitive, high-performance, lower-carbon alternative to conventional crystalline silicon PV panels. From raw material sourcing and manufacturing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s approach to technology embodies sustainability and a responsibility towards people and the planet. For more information, please visit

For First Solar Investors

This release contains forward-looking statements which are made pursuant to safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements in this release, other than statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning: our financial guidance for 2021, net sales, gross margin, operating expenses, operating income, net income per share, earnings per share, net cash balance, capital expenditures, shipments, bookings, products and our business and financial objectives for 2021. These forward-looking statements are often characterized by the use of words such as “estimate,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “project,” “plan,” “intend,” “seek,” “believe,” “forecast,” “foresee,” “likely,” “may,” “should,” “goal,” “target,” “might,” “will,” “could,” “predict,” “continue,” and the negative or plural of these words and other comparable terminology. Forward-looking statements are only predictions based on our current expectations and our projections about future events and therefore speak only as of the date of this release. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements for any reason, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements. These factors include, but are not limited to: structural imbalances in global supply and demand for PV solar modules; our competitive position and other key competitive factors; the market for renewable energy, including solar energy; the reduction, elimination, or expiration of government subsidies, policies, and support programs for solar energy projects; the impact of public policies, such as tariffs or other trade remedies imposed on solar cells and modules; interest rate fluctuations and both our and our customers’ ability to secure financing; our ability to execute on our long-term strategic plans; the loss of any of our large customers, or the ability of our customers and counterparties to perform under their contracts with us; our ability to execute on our solar module technology and cost reduction roadmaps; our ability to improve the wattage of our solar modules; the creditworthiness of our offtake counterparties and the ability of our offtake counterparties to fulfill their contractual obligations to us; the satisfaction of conditions precedent in our sales agreements; our ability to attract new customers and to develop and maintain existing customer and supplier relationships; our ability to successfully develop and complete our systems business projects; our ability to convert existing production facilities to support new product lines, such as Series 6 module manufacturing; general economic and business conditions, including those influenced by U.S., international, and geopolitical events; environmental responsibility, including with respect to cadmium telluride (“CdTe”) and other semiconductor materials; claims under our limited warranty obligations; changes in, or the failure to comply with, government regulations and environmental, health, and safety requirements; effects resulting from pending litigation; future collection and recycling costs for solar modules covered by our module collection and recycling program; our ability to protect our intellectual property; our ability to prevent and/or minimize the impact of cyber-attacks or other breaches of our information systems; our continued investment in research and development; the supply and price of components and raw materials, including CdTe; our ability to convert existing or construct production facilities to support new product lines; our ability to attract and retain key executive officers and associates; the severity and duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, including its potential impact on our business, financial condition, and results of operations; and the matters discussed under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Conditions and Results of Operations” of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and our subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, as supplemented by our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.


First Solar Investors

First Solar Media

(In thousands, except share data)

  March 31,
 December 31,
Current assets:    
Cash and cash equivalents $972,879  $1,227,002 
Marketable securities (amortized cost of $562,880 and $519,844 and allowance for credit losses of $138 and $121 at March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively) 562,735  520,066 
Accounts receivable trade 795,923  269,095 
Less: allowance for credit losses (5,827) (3,009)
Accounts receivable trade, net 790,096  266,086 
Accounts receivable, unbilled 27,280  26,673 
Less: allowance for credit losses (276) (303)
Accounts receivable, unbilled, net 27,004  26,370 
Inventories 550,270  567,587 
Project assets 6,984   
Assets held for sale   155,685 
Prepaid expenses and other current assets 226,922  251,739 
Total current assets 3,136,890  3,014,535 
Property, plant and equipment, net 2,397,986  2,402,285 
PV solar power systems, net 236,416  243,396 
Project assets 284,201  373,377 
Deferred tax assets, net 106,803  104,099 
Restricted marketable securities (amortized cost of $247,628 and allowance for credit losses of $13 at December 31, 2020)   265,280 
Goodwill 14,462  14,462 
Intangible assets, net 53,404  56,138 
Inventories 205,096  201,229 
Other assets 673,652  434,130 
Total assets $7,108,910  $7,108,931 
Current liabilities:    
Accounts payable $186,087  $183,349 
Income taxes payable 15,351  14,571 
Accrued expenses 217,483  310,467 
Current portion of long-term debt 2,453  41,540 
Deferred revenue 206,530  188,813 
Liabilities held for sale   25,621 
Other current liabilities 41,437  83,037 
Total current liabilities 669,341  847,398 
Accrued solar module collection and recycling liability 128,135  130,688 
Long-term debt 254,447  237,691 
Other liabilities 362,207  372,226 
Total liabilities 1,414,130  1,588,003 
Commitments and contingencies    
Stockholders’ equity:    
Common stock, $0.001 par value per share; 500,000,000 shares authorized; 106,310,928 and 105,980,466 shares issued and outstanding at March 31, 2021 and December 31, 2020, respectively 106  106 
Additional paid-in capital 2,853,891  2,866,786 
Accumulated earnings 2,925,433  2,715,762 
Accumulated other comprehensive loss (84,650) (61,726)
Total stockholders’ equity 5,694,780  5,520,928 
Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity $7,108,910  $7,108,931 

(In thousands, except per share amounts)

  Three Months Ended
  March 31,
 December 31,
 March 31,
Net sales $803,374  $609,232  $532,124 
Cost of sales 618,607  449,372  441,786 
Gross profit 184,767  159,860  90,338 
Operating expenses:      
Selling, general and administrative 52,087  62,700  58,587 
Research and development 19,873  22,670  25,613 
Production start-up 11,354  16,716  4,482 
Total operating expenses 83,314  102,086  88,682 
Gain on sales of businesses, net 150,895     
Operating income 252,348  57,774  1,656 
Foreign currency loss, net (2,595) (1,341) (398)
Interest income 956  1,446  9,330 
Interest expense, net (2,996) (3,018) (6,789)
Other income (expense), net 8,448  (3,279) (2,222)
Income before taxes and equity in earnings 256,161  51,582  1,577 
Income tax (expense) benefit (46,490) 66,400  89,215 
Equity in earnings, net of tax   (2,279) (88)
Net income $209,671  $115,703  $90,704 
Net income per share:      
Basic $1.98  $1.09  $0.86 
Diluted $1.96  $1.08  $0.85 
Weighted-average number of shares used in per share calculations:      
Basic 106,088  105,976  105,595 
Diluted 106,890  106,944  106,386 

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