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Published: Thursday, 5/3/2012

First Solar loses $449 million in first quarter

BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES
First Solar Inc's corporate headquarters in Tempe, Ariz. First Solar Inc will lay off 2,000 workers and close it's factory in Germany following a collapse in solar panel prices. First Solar Inc's corporate headquarters in Tempe, Ariz. First Solar Inc will lay off 2,000 workers and close it's factory in Germany following a collapse in solar panel prices.
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TEMPE, Ariz. — First Solar Inc., the world’s largest maker of thin-film solar modules, posted the second quarterly loss in its history after cutting production and firing 30 percent of its workforce.

The loss was $449.4 million, or $5.20 a share, compared with net income of $116 million, or $1.33 a share, a year earlier, the company said in a statement after the market closed today.

First Solar is reducing capacity after a global surplus drove down solar-panel prices 49 percent in the past year and waning government support in Europe slowed demand. The company said March 17 it would fire about 2,000 workers worldwide and close a plant in Germany.

The company said there would be no layoffs among manufacturing employees at its Perrysburg Township plant, although about 30 employees who are “corporate administrative staff” at the plant would be laid off.

The Perrysburg Township plant has four production lines and about 1,200 employes.

First Solar was founded in Toledo as Solar Cells Inc. before it changed its name and moved to Arizona.

Also today, First Solar announced that James Hughes was being promoted from chief commercial officer to chief executive officer.

Former CEO Rob Gillette left the company in October after less than three years at the helm.



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