First Solar (FSLR) Smashes Estimates, But Whacked AH On Soft Guidance

First Solar (FSLR), the best of breed thin film solar producer, smashed estimates after the bell today reporting an EPS of $1.61.  That was well ahead of estimates of $1.30 and more than double over the year ago quarter.  Revenues also more than doubled over the year ago quarter with the company posting 4Q revenues of $433.7.  Indeed, a very impressive quarter but wall st doesn’t care about what you did lately, they care about what you’re going to do in the future. .. and that’s why the stock is getting whacked after hours.

CEO Ahearn while very optimistic about the future of solar is very cautious in the short term.  Nothing new here.. all solar companies that have reported have indicated a soft first half of 09.  However, FSLR has to live up to greater expectations and rise above in order to avoid the wrath of wall st. 

The company is being impacted by all the usual suspects – global economy, financing difficulty, cost of financing and over supply.  It did acknowledge that a few of its customers were under financial stress and puts potential customer defaults in the range of 10 – 15% of the expected 2009 volume which could lead to inventory build in the first half of the year.

Regarding the stimulus bill, Ahearn said much of the impact won’t be felt until after 2009 because of the lengthy approval process for large projects.

All in all, it leads to a tough few quarters to begin 09.  Revenues are expected to be flat to slightly down sequentially and the stock is reacting.. down nearly 15% in after hours trading.  It’s always difficult to predict how far the pull backs will go, but once FSLR begins a new leg up it will present another great opportunity to get in.

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