Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Efficiency mark helps First Solar stock rise

Company releases positive expectations


First Solar Inc. set a world record for thin-film module efficiency at its Perrysburg Township plant.

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Wednesday was a good day for First Solar Inc.

First, the company announced it had set a world record for thin-film module efficiency at its Perrysburg Township plant.

Then the firm revealed its financial expectations for the next few years, which caused its stock price to soar.

The company announced that it had produced a cadmium-telluride photovoltaic module that achieved 17.0 percent total area module efficiency in tests performed by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

First Solar had held the previous record of 16.1 percent efficiency, which was set in April, 2013, at the Perrysburg Township facility, which is the company’s only U.S. plant.

The efficiency figure measures the electrical output of a solar module. The First Solar product converted 17 percent of the energy in the sunlight it received into electricity.

The company emphasized that the record was not set by a minimodule produced in a laboratory or research facility, but by a full-size module produced using production-scale processes and materials. The module “included several recent technology enhancements that are incrementally being implemented on the company’s commercial production lines,” First Solar said in a release.

“This achievement demonstrates our ability to rapidly and reliably transfer research results to full-size modules,” Raffi Garabedian, First Solar’s chief technology officer, said in a statement.

Mr. Garabedian said the efficiency milestone is also a signal that First Solar’s CdTe modules are becoming a more attractive option for application in constrained space projects and commercial installations.

“With the highest demonstrated thin-film module performance, we

are positioned to pursue new deployment opportunities around the world,” he said.

Wednesday in New York, the company said it expects net sales of $3.7 billion to $4 billion in 2014, with diluted earnings per share of between $2.20 and $2.60. Its revenue forecast would be 21 percent higher than 2013.

First Solar said its target for 2015 is net sales of $3.8 billion to $4.3 billion and earnings per diluted share of $4.50 to $6. For 2016, the target is net sales of $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion and earnings of $3.50 to $5 per share.

First Solar also said it was developing cost-effective solar plants with General Electric Co.

First Solar’s stock rose $11.84 a share, or 20.6 percent, to $69.40 on Wednesday. That’s its highest closing price since Sept. 27, 2011.

First Solar stock was trading for more than $300 a share in May, 2008, but plummeted to less than $15 a share in 2012.

The company was started in Toledo by solar pioneer Harold McMaster.

It was known as Solar Cells Inc. until 1999, when True North Partners LLC purchased controlling interest and renamed the company First Solar LLC. It is now based in Tempe, Ariz.

Contact Chip Towns at: or 419-724-6194.

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