When First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) reported third-quarter earnings per share of $1.94 it shocked investors. The increased profits were driven by an $0.08 reduction in cost per watt, 860 MW of project signings, and a plan to make panels that are as much as 17% efficient. 

First Solar is leveraging its utility scale solar prowess to generate a 28.8% gross margin, which far exceeds SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) and Canadian Solar (NASDAQ:CSIQ), two solar manufacturers who have built significant power plant businesses of their own. 

Erin Miller sat down with solar analyst Travis Hoium to see why investors should be interested in First Solar now. 

Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of SunPower and personally owns shares and has the following options: long January 2015 $5 calls on SunPower, long January 2015 $7 calls on SunPower, long January 2015 $15 calls on SunPower, long January 2015 $25 calls on SunPower, and long January 2015 $40 calls on SunPower. 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.