First Solar, Inc. Announces Fourth Quarter and Full-Year 2012 Financial Results

First Solar, Inc. announced financial results for the quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2012. Net sales were a record $1.1 billion in the quarter, an increase of $236 million from the third quarter of 2012 and $415 million from the fourth quarter of 2011. The increase in net sales from the third quarter of 2012 was primarily due to increased revenue recognition for the Topaz project, and an increase in third-party module sales. Net sales for 2012 were $3.4 billion, up 22% from 2011.

The Company reported fourth quarter GAAP net income per fully diluted share of $1.74, compared to $1.00 in the third quarter of 2012 and a loss of $4.78 in the fourth quarter of 2011, which included $454 million in pre-tax goodwill impairment and restructuring charges. The fourth quarter of 2012 was impacted by pre-tax charges of $25 million (reducing EPS by $0.30), relating to previously announced restructuring actions. The Company reported a full-year GAAP loss of $1.11 per share for 2012, including the impact of pre-tax charges of $529 million (reducing EPS by $5.99), relating to previously announced restructuring actions and costs in excess of normal warranty. Non-GAAP net income per fully diluted share was $2.04 for the fourth quarter and $4.90 for full-year 2012.

Cash and Marketable Securities at the end of 2012 were $1 billion, up from $717 million at the end of the third quarter of 2012. Cash flows from operations were $328 million in the fourth quarter, and $762 million for the full-year 2012.

The Company also provided guidance for the first quarter of 2013 as follows:

Net Sales of $650 to $750 million
Gross Margin of 25-27%
OPEX of $90 to $100 million
Operating income of $70 to $100 million
Tax rate between 11% and 13%
EPS of $0.70 to $0.90 per fully diluted share
Cash flow from Operations of $0 to $100 million
CAPEX of $80 to $100 million

"Despite a very challenging market environment, we continued to make meaningful progress in all critical value drivers for the Company," said Jim Hughes, CEO of First Solar. "We exceeded our module and balance-of-systems cost reduction targets for 2012, as announced in December 2011, further increased module efficiency and field performance, and achieved several key objectives in our strategy to develop and service new sustainable energy markets. We expect the market will remain turbulent for some time to come, but we have seen some evidence of improvement and believe we have the right strategy in place to retain our industry leadership by providing the best value for our customers."

First Solar achieved several milestones over the past year:

Acquired Solar Chile and established subsidiaries in India, the Middle East, South Africa and Thailand.
Set new world record for CdTe cell efficiency at 18.7%.
Increased average module efficiency to 12.9% for the fourth quarter of 2012, up 0.7 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2011.
Reduced the average module manufacturing costs on its best lines to $0.64 per watt (excluding underutilization), down from $0.69 in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Surpassed 250 MWAC of grid-connected power at Agua Caliente, making it the world's largest operational solar power plant.
Surpassed 7 GWDC of cumulative production, enough to provide clean electricity for approximately 3.5 million homes and displace 4.7 million metric tons of CO₂ annually.

For a reconciliation of non-GAAP measures to measures presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the U.S. ("GAAP"), see the tables below.

First Solar has scheduled a conference call, Feb. 26, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. EST to discuss this announcement. Investors may access a live webcast of this conference call by visiting http://investor.firstsolar.com/events.cfm.

An audio replay of the conference call will also be available approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call. The audio replay will remain available until Monday, March 4, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. EST and can be accessed by dialing 888-203-1112 if you are calling from within the United States or 719-457-0820 if you are calling from outside the United States and entering the replay pass code 4625647. A replay of the webcast will be available on the Investors section of the Company's website approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call and remain available for approximately 90 calendar days.

Source: First Solar, Inc./investor.firstsolar.com