Arizona-based solar company First Solar saw its biggest ever one-day jump — a whopping 45-percent increase — on Wallstreet Tuesday after announcing that its revenues and earnings will far exceed expectations, partly due to its acquisition of new solar technology. First Solar recently announced plans to acquire TetraSun, a California-based startup that produces high-efficiency crystalline silicon technology, which will enable First Solar to start making much more efficient solar panels.
Before the surge in Chinese solar panel production and a reduction in government incentives in Europe, First Solar and other solar panel manufacturers were riding a wave of great financial promise. But the increase in production and decrease in demand led to a glut of solar panels on the global market, sending prices on a tailspin and erasing profits.
First Solar had cornered the market on cadmium telluride panels, which were much cheaper but less efficient than silicon solar panels. But when the prices of silicon solar panel plummeted, First Solar lost some of its competitive edge. The new technology acquired with TetraSun will serve a new market where space is limited and where efficiency is at a premium. But First Solar will still hold on to its cheaper cadmium telluride panel production to continue to serve the more price-sensitive market base.
The company expects earnings per share between $4 and $6 and revenue of $4.2 billion and $4.8 billion in 2015. Analysts had been expecting 2015 earnings for First Solar to be closer to $3.36 a share and revenue to be at $3.653 billion. But solar industry analyst Alex Morris warns that, “the company is ascribing a lot of credit for project wins in the future. It’s debatable how realistic that is, but they are obviously pretty optimistic.”