First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR) reported earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015 after the close of market yesterday. On almost all fronts, the report beat Street estimates posting a very impressive quarter. The stock rose more than 11% on the open of next day and is evident of the company’s growth surge.
The earnings call provided for revenue of $942 million beating consensus estimate of $929 million by a fair margin. The earnings per share was reported at $1.60 more than double the Street’s estimate of $0.77, gross margins showing signs of improvement were at 24.6% as opposed to Street’s 20%. $164 million was reported net income for the company vs. the Street’s $78 million.
The guidance for 2016 was adjusted to account for the shift towards 2017 due to the ITC extension until the end of the year, but, no significant impact was observed in terms of EPS as the gross margins guidance was raised to negate the impact. Revenue for 2016 is guided to be in range of $3.8 – $4 billion, with a 100 million decrease on both ends of guidance, but, guided up for GM at 17% to 18% from prior 16% to 18%, while, EPS was maintained at $4-$4.5.
Baird Analyst Ben Kallo, has given his narrative following the earnings call increasing the price target to $74 from $69 and maintained an Outperform rating on the stock. The analyst strongly recommends FSLR to all investors looking to buy their way into the solar power industry. He believes the company has potential to ramp up production capacity using dormant production assets and balance sheet fundamentals reveal a very healthy picture.
Needham and Company maintained a Hold rating for FSLR following the Q4 report. Analyst Edwin Mok defended the Hold rating on the grounds of lack of visibility in 2017, as the company has adjusted its 2016 guidance to push for tax benefits and also wait for macroeconomic headwinds to turn favorable. The analyst believes that earnings will decline during 2016 and the trend is likely to spill over to 2017, thus, maintaining a Hold.
The analyst opinion on the stock has 19 analysts out of which 5 are conviction/Strong Buy, and seven each to Buy and Hold. The stock is currently trading at $68.85 after an almost 11.5% increase following the earnings call.