Back in February, we learned that First Solar's
Gross margin for the second quarter came in at 54%, off just a hair from the year-end "steady state" level. Offsetting the manufacturing costs were euro strength versus the dollar, throughput enhancements, and lower material costs.
There's nothing novel about those first two items, but lower material costs? That's pretty remarkable for just about any industry these days, let alone the polysilicon-poor solar business. Of course, unlike Suntech Power
Revenue and earnings growth was characteristically explosive this quarter, with 36% and 49% sequential growth on the top and bottom line, respectively. Again, that's sequential, rather than a year-over-year comparison.
Looking at the various end markets for First Solar products, Germany is still a strong place to be, but subsidy reductions are pointing to a shift away from ground-mounted installations and toward rooftop installations. That, or German system integrators will peddle their wares outside of the country.
Spain, as mentioned a few weeks back, also appears to be shifting to rooftop. Rumors regarding more generous tariff rates this week sent companies like Yingli Green Energy
Just as with SunPower
Finally, things are progressing relatively well here at home, considering the current regulatory logjam in Congress. First Solar has unveiled some projects out west, and its domestic deals will continue to be driven by state Renewable Portfolio Standards until the federal tax credit situation gets resolved.