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Tempe, Arizona-based company $FSLR said the company achieved another new record cell efficiency of 22.1% in 2015. The company also reported record bookings of 3.4GW DC. In 4Q15, $FSLR's fleet avg. efficiency improved to 16.1%, which is the first time the full fleet has averaged above 16% for an entire quarter.
$FSLR announced full-year 2018 guidance. Forecasted net sales for 2018 are $2.3-2.5Bil, with solar power systems net sales expected to comprise 75-80% of the total net sales and third-party module sales the remainder. EPS is forecasted to be $1.25-1.75. The 2018 ending net cash balance is projected in the range of $1.6-1.8Bil.
$FSLR completed the sale of the cash equity interests in the 250 Megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project in Nevada to global private asset manager Capital Dynamics. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Minority tax equity interests in the project are shared by $GE unit GE Energy Financial Services, and an affiliate of the $GS.
$FSLR obtained non-recourse project debt financing of $240MM in a syndicated loan arranged by Mizuho Bank Ltd. for a utility-scale solar project in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan. This demonstrates $FSLR's technology, project development, operations and maintenance, and project financing capabilities for utility-scale solar projects in Japan.
$FSLR said since the beginning of 2017, it has booked over 400MW and this positions a lot more module shipment volume towards 2H17. The current profile of the timing of the revenue recognition on the systems business will be more heavily weighted towards 2H17. This gives confidence in the forecast for the balance of 2017.
$FSLR's conversion efficiency for its full fleet averaged 16.6% in 4Q16, which was an increase of 10BP QoQ and a 50BP increase YoY. Module conversion efficiency on the best line improved to a 4Q16 average of 16.8%, a 20BP improvement versus 3Q16.
$FSLR will stop Series 4 production on eight lines within the next two months at its Malaysia factory. Tool ordering for Malaysia production has already commenced and will continue into 2Q17. Production startup in Malaysia is targeted for 3Q18 through 4Q18. By 1Q19, this portion of the factory is expected to have approx. 1.1GW of Series 6 capacity.
$FSLR reported a net loss of $719.8MM or $6.92 per share in 4Q16 compared to a net income of $164MM or $1.60 per share in 4Q15, hurt by pretax charges of $729MM primarily related to restructuring actions. Net sales fell to $480MM compared to last year.
$FSLR received the module supply contract for the 140 megawatt Sun Metals Solar Farm in North Queensland (QLD), Australia. It will be Australia's largest solar project once constructed, and utilize more than 1,167,000 First Solar advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules to produce about 270,000 megawatt-hours of energy in first year of operation.
$FSLR expects 2017 GAAP per share results between loss of $0.10 and profit of $0.45 and non-GAAP EPS of $0.00-0.50. The company predicts net sales of $2.5-2.6Bil, gross margin of 12.5-14.5%, GAAP operating income of $30-75MM and non-GAAP operating income of $40-80MM. Capital expenditures are expected to be $525-625MM for 2017.
$FSLR now expects 2016 loss per share of $4.00-2.00 compared to prior EPS estimate of $3.75-3.90. The company raised its non-GAAP EPS guidance to $4.60-4.80 from $4.30-4.50, while maintaining its net sales outlook of $2.8-2.9Bil. $FSLR now sees operating loss of $445-210MM compared to prior operating income forecast of $235-255MM.
$FSLR said it will reduce its workforce at its manufacturing facilities both domestically and internationally as a result of the transition from Series 4 to Series 6 production. Additional reductions in administrative and other staff are also planned. $FSLR expects to incur restructuring and asset impairment charges of $500-700MM.
$FSLR updated its gross margin guidance to 25.5-26.0% from 18.5-19.0% previously. The increase is a reflection of both the relatively low gross margins associated with the Moapa and California Flats projects that have been pushed out and a lot of project cost savings achieved in 3Q16.
$FSLR produced 779 MW DC in 3Q16, a decrease of 1% from 2Q16. The slight decrease is due to an increase in upgrade activities across the fleets, partially offset by higher fleet efficiency. Relative to 3Q15, production was up 19% as a result of higher module efficiency, increased capacity utilization and the addition of new capacity.
$FSLR appointed Alex Bradley as its new CFO in Oct. 2016. Alex has been serving as the Interim CFO since July and has made a seamless transition from his previous responsibility as Head of Project Finance and Treasury. Alex has led or supported the financing and sale of almost all of the company's utility-scale solar projects.
$FSLR said its potential bookings opportunities have grown to over 25.4 GW DC, an increase of approx. 1.4 GW from 2Q16. Mid-to-late stage bookings opportunities are 1.1 GW. Approx. one-third of the late stage opportunities are systems projects, with the balance comprised of module-only sales.
For 2016, $FSLR expects net sales in the range of $2.8-2.9Bil, down from its prior guidance range of $3.8-4.0Bil. On a GAAP basis, EPS is expected to be $3.75-3.90. Non-GAAP EPS is expected to be in the range of $4.30-4.50. The company sees CapEx in the range of $225-275MM, down from the previous range of $275-325MM.