First Solar Q4 profit tumbles

First Solar’s fourth quarter net income slid to $65.2m, or 64 cents per share, a result of tax restructuring and asset impairment charges, and lower than expected sales

Net profit was $154.1m a year earlier, or $1.74 per share.  

Company sales in the quarter were $768.4m compared with $1.07bn a year earlier., due to lower systems revenue and lower systems volume to third-party module customers.

For 2013, net profit was $353m, or $3.70 per share, versus a $96.3m net loss, or $1.11 per share. Full-year sales were $3.3bn compared with $3.36bn in 2012.

First Solar chief executive blamed the revenue decline was primarily due to several projects that were expected to be completed in 2013, but are now being held through construction into 2014.

Hughes says First Solar last year brought down the average cost per watt 10% to 63 cents, the largest such decline since 2010.

In the fourth quarter, the company’s plants operated at 83% capacity utilization, up 3 percentage points from the prior quarter.

Looking ahead, the company expects first quarter net sales in the range of $800m to $900m; earnings per share in the range of $0.50 to $0.60 per fully diluted share, and cash used in operations activities to be between $300m and $400m.