Summary of First Solar's 3Q13 Earnings Teleconference Call
On Thursday, October 31st, First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) had its 3Q13 Earnings Teleconference Call.
Upcoming Projects, joint Ventures, and Sales:
First Solar announced the acquisition of the Moapa project in Nevada in September. CEO Jim Hughs commented, " This 250-megawatt AC project is in an advanced stage of development and has a 25-year PPA in place with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Construction of the project could start as soon as the fourth quarter of 2013 and be completed by the end of 2015."
The company agreed to build the McCoy project in Riverside County, California. First Solar entered into an agreement with NextEra to tentatively complete a 250-megawatt AC solar power plant by late 2016.
FSLR will also build four other solar plants in California totaling 79 megawatts AC using First Solar's RayTracker Technology.
BELECTRIC and First Solar launched a joint venture to build solar energy projects in Europe, North Africa and the US. FSLR had in 39 megawatt AC increase in demand from BELECTRIC.
The company sold its facility in Mesa, Arizona which should provide $115 million in liquidity and a reduction of $10 million in annual operating expenses.
Yesterday, First Solar announced Silver State South sale, a 250 megawatt AC project.
Hughs noted the successful completion of the Dubai 13- megawatt DC power plant. "While this is by no means one of our biggest projects, it is our first utility-scale project in the Middle East, and the largest operating solar photovoltaic plant in the region."
Third Quarter Results Reported Include:
- CFO Mark Widmar commented, "Excluding the impact of underutilization, our core cost per watt fell to $0.57, a $0.06 improvement on the prior quarter. During Q3, our best plant manufacturing cost at full utilization was $0.56 per watt. Average conversion efficiency for Q3 increased 30 basis points to 13.3%. While this is a significant quarter-on-quarter improvement, it is noteworthy to highlight that for the first month of Q4, our lead line average efficiency is 13.9% we expect the fleet average efficiency to meet or exceed the lead line 13.9% efficiency over the next few quarters."
- First Solar's business development team booked 860 megawatts DC of new business, a book-to-bill ratio of greater than one
- GAAP EPS was reported at close to $2.00, above expectations due to Desert Sunlight and the sale of ABW Canadian projects.
- First Solar reported the largest quarterly decline of cost per watt, falling $0.08 to $0.59 on average. The core figure is the lowest in the industry at $0.49.
- Third Quarter production was up 10 percent (on a sequential basis) at 426 megawatts DC. Excluding German manufacturing volume, production increased 8 percent YoY.
- Factories ran at 80 percent capacity utilization this quarter, up 5 percent QoQ.
- Module manufacturing cost was reduced this quarter from $0.67 to $0.59, a 12 percent reduction QoQ.
- Net sales reached a record of $1.3 billion.
- Cash and marketable securities reached $1.5 billion this quarter, a $247 million increase.
- Net Cash increased $275 million to almost $1.3 billion.
- QoQ debt decreased to $229 million, a $27 million decline.
- Free cash flow increased $116 million to $284 million.
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