First Solar (FSLR) Conference Call Highlights

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10:40:24 am on November 4, 2011

Barron’s has a good post outlining some of the highlights of the First Solar (FSLR) conference call last night.  Here’s a brief summary, but check out the article.

Ahearn acknowledged that the future for solar in the shorter term isn’t as bright as he hoped it would be, but there is lots of opportunity.  That opportunity is apparent in China where it will have to get a healthy supply of electricity from renewable sources if it hopes to decrease massive pollution and satisfy the demands of a growing population.  Opportunity also comes from Germany which aims to shut down all nuclear plants within 10 years, and in the EU with a goal of renewable energy producing 20% of electricity within 9 years.

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However, the short term remains difficult because of a reliance on subsidies which are being cut significantly in Europe.  Ahearn takes another jab at US solar policy saying that outside of California, state solar programs have been non existent for several years. 

Ahearn talks about transitioning out of less attractive markets and acknowledged the company’s error in focusing too much on subsidized markets and the short term fixations on EPS which is likely the reason Gillette is no longer CEO.  Ahearn was diplomatic when he said Gillette simply “wasn’t the right fit.”  So news that the company has doubled capacity in Germany may come as a surprise, but let’s remember that Germany is still one of the largest solar markets in the world despite the subsidy cuts.

“Operating to maximize GAAP EPS in the short term despite declining subsidy pools and massive oversupply is not a good strategy when it leads to sub optimizing investment in the future.”

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