First Solar's first quarter was transitional as the company executed on its 31 percent ownership stake in its YieldCo, 8point3 Energy Partners. This quarter has the vertically integrated developer hardily beating Street expectations with net sales of $896 million, a 1:1 book-to-bill ratio and a factory that will soon be sold out through 2016.
Net sales were up $427 million from the first quarter due to "increased revenue recognition on the Silver State South project and the sale of majority interests in the North Star and Lost Hills-Blackwell projects." The company had second-quarter GAAP earnings of $0.93 per fully diluted share, versus a loss of ($0.62) in the previous quarter.
First Solar had 537 megawatts of new bookings and year-to-date bookings of 1.4 gigawatts.
First Solar won the contract to provide its CdTe PV modules to the 200-megawatt second phase of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park in Dubai, estimated to be worth $200 million. The firm also won a 100-megawatt project with NV Energy.
Baird viewed the 2015 guidance as "significantly higher than expected, driven by strong expected revenue and margin." First Solar is guiding for 2015 as follows.
The solar module engineering and manufacturing part of the company had a fleet average module conversion efficiency of 15.4 percent. Its best production line is now shipping solar modules with efficiencies of 16.2 percent. The CEO said he expects the entire fleet to be running at that level by the end of the year. Modules built at the company's Malaysian facility have a cost of less than 40 cents per watt.
First Solar has visibility on 16.7 gigawatts of potential bookings.
During the earnings call, CEO Jim Hughes cautioned of some "softness in the U.S. market in 2017," but noted that First Solar's business was growing in India, Turkey, Japan, the Middle East and Latin America -- a sign of diversification outside of the U.S.
Hughes noted that there is "lots of effort and activity" to make sure lawmakers deal with the dropoff of the federal Investment Tax Credit via "a smooth glide path" with "no sharp changes."