TPI Composites (NASDAQ:TPIC), one of the largest global independent manufacturers of wind blades, reported first-quarter results on Thursday. Although the report didn't blow expectations out of the water, there was still a lot to like.

Let's take a look at the numbers and see how they fit into TPI's full-year guidance and the company's long-term outlook.

A row of onshore wind turbines at sunrise.

Image source: Getty Images.

First-quarter positives

TPI notched record-high first-quarter revenue of $405 million, a 13% increase from the first quarter of 2020. The company produced 814 sets (a set has three wind blades) this quarter, which was 11% more than the same period last year. 

Another good sign is reduced spending. Capital expenditures (capex) were $18.8 million for the quarter compared to $27 million in Q1 2020. TPI ramped up its spending considerably over the last few years to increase its manufacturing capacity in the U.S., Mexico, China, Turkey, and India, as well as invest in new research facilities in Germany and Denmark. High spending is the main reason it failed to turn a profit during these pivotal years. However, TPI is now transitioning to a period of lower spending, and hopefully, a return to profitability.

The renewable energy company mentioned that its first-quarter capex was "primarily related to machinery and equipment at our new facilities and expansion and improvements at our existing facilities." Put another way, the short- to medium-term goal is to establish its footing by securing long-term supply agreements (LTSAs) with new original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and continue to grow sales with its existing customers -- not to open a bunch of new facilities. The transition from rapid expansion to making a name for itself in new markets will take time. But the first quarter shows TPI is headed in the right direction.

A man wearing a hardhat looks up at a row of wind turbines.

Image source: Getty Images.

First-quarter concerns

TPI's net debt position increased from $88.1 million at the end of 2020 to $99 million at the end of the quarter. Like many companies, TPI increased its debt considerably to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. After net long-term debt peaked at $141 million in the second quarter, the company did a good job of preserving cash and improving its balance sheet. It seems that momentum stagnated in the first quarter.

TPI reported annual losses in 2020 and 2019, but was close to turning a profit this quarter, losing just $1.8 million or $0.05 per diluted share. The company's abilities to reduce its debt and increase profitability will be key points to watch in the coming years. 

Full-year guidance

TPI's full-year guidance remains almost entirely unchanged from what it released in February. The only difference is net income, which is forecasted to be between $10 million and $18 million versus prior guidance of $13 million to $22 million. 

Financial Metric

Full-Year 2021 Projection

Net sales

$1.75 billion to $1.85 billion

Adjusted EBITDA 

$110 million to $135 million

Net income

$10 million to $18 million

Utilization %

80% to 85%

Wind blade set capacity

4,090

Capital expenditures

$55 million to $65 million

Data source: TPI Composites. 

TPI cited supply chain issues as a headwind in the first quarter, which could continue to impact profit margin. TPI is not alone in this regard. Other industrial and energy companies have cited similar issues as a challenge that could persist, at least in the short term. Suppliers and materials companies reduced their capacity during the pandemic to adjust to lower demand. For the time being, the general theme is that global growth is outpacing these stripped-down supply chains, leading to rising costs.

The long-term thesis remains intact

Given the bludgeoning that renewable energy stocks have taken over the last few months due to supply chain concerns, rising interest rates, and increased competition, it's a good sign that TPI reaffirmed its full-year guidance. Its revenue target represents just a 7% increase from 2020, which isn't all that impressive. However, TPI continues to have success with leading OEMs by renewing and expanding contracts.

Playing off a strong foundational customer base, the company is well positioned to benefit from growing wind energy generation in developing economies. With a forward price-to-sales ratio of around 1, TPI is reasonably valued and remains a top renewable energy stock to buy right now.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.