Why Shares of First Solar, Inc. Popped Today

Is this meaningful or just another movement?

Mar 19, 2014 at 4:03PM

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of solar manufacturer First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) are up 20% today after the company issued encouraging guidance.

So what: 2014 earnings guidance wasn't too great with an expected $2.20 to $2.60 per share compared to expectations of $3.12 in earnings per share from Wall Street. But earnings are expected to grow to $4.50 to $6.00 per share in 2015 and $3.50 to $5.00 per share in 2016. Analysts were guessing at $3.68 in earnings for 2016 and the increasing numbers may show that the company is expecting improved margins from its improved panels.

Now what: The reality is that First Solar wasn't able to hit earnings quarter to quarter in 2013, so I'm not sure what guidance three years out tells us about the company. Management is expecting to increase efficiency to 17% by 2017, which would be a big bump from 13.4% last year, but that may only keep up with increases made by other technologies.

I think investors are putting a lot of faith in guidance so far out that there's no way to know what the numbers will be. Projects have gotten smaller and lead times shorter, which will mean less visibility, converse to three-year guidance given today.

I don't think First Solar is in terrible shape, I'd just like to see improving numbers and the company even jettison module making altogether before jumping in.

A stock to add to your watch list
First Solar may not be a great buy after today's pop, but The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.

Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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