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First Solar Surges on Strong Guidance

By Sam Mattera – Mar 19, 2014 at 5:20AM

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Shares of First Solar are surging on Wednesday even as the Dow Jones remains largely unchanged.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) was up just three points as of 11 a.m. EDT as the market waits for the latest word from the Federal Reserve. Dow Jones component IBM (IBM -0.55%) traded lower alongside tech giant Google (GOOGL 2.16%). First Solar (FSLR 2.53%), however, was a notable outperformer, surging more than 12% early in the session.

Waiting for the Fed
Although the Dow Jones wasn't doing much early on Wednesday, that could change when the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m. releases its outlook on the economy, its decision on interest rates, and its economic projections. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen will comment on the decision 30 minutes later.

It's likely that the Fed will keep interest rates unchanged, but the central bank seems likely to further alter its bond-buying, which now stands at $65 billion per month. The rate at which the Fed reduces its bond purchases could change -- speed up, slow down, or even reverse. While continued, gradual tapering is expected, a massive reduction could send stocks lower, while a cessation of the tapering process, or an expansion of the Fed's monetary easing program, could send the Dow Jones higher in afternoon trade.

IBM's Watson continues to improve
IBM shares were down 0.6% to slightly underperform the Dow Jones early on Wednesday, but there wasn't much news to account for the sell-off. Big Blue announced that its cloud-based supercomputer Watson would help genetic researchers sequence DNA. While Watson could emerge as a promising product for IBM in the coming years, it isn't particularly vital to the company's bottom line for the time being.

Google moves into wearables
Google, down 0.4%, yesterday announced a new initiative designed to extend its Android operating system to wearable devices: "Android Wear" allows Google's hardware partners to add smart functionality to a variety of wearable computing devices. Both Motorola and LG will release smartwatches based on Android Wear in the coming months.

First Solar expects a strong quarter
First Solar shares surged after the solar panel producer said fiscal 2013 earnings would come in higher than expected. It also projected fiscal 2014 revenue in the $3.7 billion-$4 billion range; analysts had only expected the company to generate about $3.8 billion of revenue.

First Solar has been a particularly volatile stock in recent years, running to a high near $300 per share in 2008 before hitting a low near $10. Shares have rebounded somewhat, but remain prone to wild swings.

Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and International Business Machines. 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.

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