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Published: Thursday, 5/1/2008

Profits soar at First Solar, O-I

Stock-price-soaring First Solar Inc., which has its only North American solar-panel factory in suburban Toledo, yesterday reported an 820 percent increase in its first-quarter profit, to $46.6 million, or 57 cents a share.

The firm, which began in Toledo and now is based in Tempe, Ariz., said its quarterly sales were $197 million, up from $67 million a year earlier. That easily beat predictions by Wall Street analysts, who expected a profit of 48 cents a share and revenues of $188 million.

Its stock jumped $7.07 yesterday, closing at $291.99 a share on the Nasdaq market.

First Solar said it has raised its annual revenue estimate to a range of $975 million to $1.05 billion, up from previous projections of $900 million to $950 million.

The company also said its production costs rose slightly in the first quarter, because of start-up costs for a plant in Malaysia. It spends $1.14 to produce a watt of solar capacity, compared with $1.12 in the fourth quarter of 2007.

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The devalued dollar, higher product prices, and a better sales mix led to sharp increases in sales and profit in the first quarter for bottle maker Owens-Illinois Inc., of Perrysburg.

The company said yesterday it had sales of $2 billion for the quarter, compared with $1.7 billion a year earlier, and profits more than tripled to $178 million, or $1.02 a share, from $53 million, or 31 cents a share, a year ago.

Overall, the firm sold fewer tons of its glass bottles used in packaging beer and other food items, and it had a nearly $10 million restructuring charge.

But the price and product-sales mix boosted profit.



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