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First Solar beats market expectations

Compound semiconductor photovoltaic manufacturer, First Solar, reports soaring sales for the second quarter, 2012.

US-based thin-film CdTe photovoltaic manufacturer, First Solar, has bounced back from a poor year, beating second-quarter profit expectations and raising revenue guidance for the year.

Net sales came in at $957 million in the quarter, an increase of $460 million from the first quarter of 2012 and $425 million from the second quarter of 2011.

The company attributes the gains to an an increase in the number and size of projects under construction meeting revenue recognition criteria during the quarter, including Antelope Valley Solar Ranch1 in California and Silver State North in Nevada.

The company reported second quarter net income of $1.27 per fully diluted share, compared to a net loss of $5.20 per fully diluted share in the first quarter of 2012 and net income of $0.70 per fully diluted share in the second quarter of 2011.

"Despite market uncertainties, First Solar delivered strong performance in the quarter," said Jim Hughes, chief executive. "Looking forward... we believe that by executing our strategic roadmaps and completing our restructuring program we can achieve our targets of 2.6 to 3.0GW of sales in sustainable markets, earning a return on invested capital of 13 to 17 percent by 2016."

Based on reductions in First Solar's ongoing cost structure primarily related to restructuring initiatives, the company is increasing 2012 guidance; net Sales of $3.6 - $3.9 billion, compared to prior guidance of $3.5-$3.8 billion, and earnings per fully diluted share to$4.20-$4.70, compared to prior guidance of $4.00-$4.50.

First Solar shares have plummeted since 2008 after an influx of competitors, many from Asia, flooded the market, forcing down the price of solar panels.

First Solar is also developing the 139MW Campo Verde Solar Project, located near El Centro in Imperial County, California. The project is expected to start construction in the third quarter of 2012 and be completed in 2013.

First Solar will construct the project using its advanced thin film PV modules that generate clean, renewable energy with no emissions, waste or water consumption during operation.

According to First Solar, the project will generate enough electricity to power approximately 50,000 average California homes, displacing 80,000 metric tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 15,000 cars off the road.

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