First Solar Crushes Q4, Lowers 2009 Guidance*

First Solar reported a fourth quarter profit of $132.8 million, on revenues of $433.7 million. That gives the solar giant earnings per share of $1.61, which is well above the $1.30 analyst estimates.

For full year 2008, First Solar’s net income was $348.3 million or $4.24 per share on revenue of $1.5 billion. That’s a 55% increase from 2007’s net income which was $158.4 million.

UPDATE: The company is feeling frisky for 2009. It says it will double production capacity and it only costs $.98 to produce a watt of energy now.

RE-UPDATE: Maybe they’re not that frisky. CEO Michael Ahern said on the call, “In three to five years, the market outlook for solar has never been better,” but “the short-term outlook for the solar industry has never looked more difficult.” The company lowered 2009 revenue guidance by $200 million to between $1.8 and $1.9 million.

Here’s a preview of expectations via Investerms:

Earnings: $1.30 per share. The 32 analysts covering the company have estimates ranging from $1.00 to $1.49 per share with a mean estimate of $1.30. This compares to $0.77 per share a year earlier.

Revenues: $410.39 million. The 30 analysts covering the company have estimates ranging from $335.1 million to $431.6 million. This represents a 104.4% increase over last year’s $200.8 million in sales.

And via Barron’s another preview:

Collins Stewart analyst Daniel Ries this morning trimmed his forecasts for the company. For ’09, he now sees revenue of $2.072 billion, down from $2.178 billion, with EPS of $7.62, down from $8.10. For Q1, he goes to $1.45, from $1.57, with shipments of 203 MW, down from 212 MW.

For Q4, he sees $418 million in sales and profits of $1.40 a share; the Street is forecasting $410 million and $1.30. He sees shipments of 177 MW with as ASP of $2.28/watt.

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