First Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) Earnings Bring Plaudits on Wall Street

First Solar, Inc. is having a great day today after releasing better than expected results in its second quarter (Q2 2015) results yesterday. First Solar posted adjusted Q2 earnings of $0.52 per share above the consensus estimate of $0.07 by an unbelievable 643%. For additional insight into the quality of First Solar’s performance – in the year-ago quarter, First Solar posted earnings of $0.04 per share.

Highlights of the second quarter earnings are presented below:

The firm reported revenue of $896.2M to mark a 64.6% year-over-year increase in revenue. The reported revenue beats the consensus estimate of $746M by 20.1%. Revenue growth can be traced to the Silver State South project and the sale of majority interests in the North Star and Lost Hills-Blackwell projects.

The firm’s gross profit in the reported quarter stood at $164.5M to mark a 77.4% increase in gross profit of $92.7M from a year earlier.

Total operating expenses increased by a modest 18.2% to $107.4M due to SGA expenses and $6.9M in start-up costs.

The firm’s operating income came in at $57.1M, a marked increase from $1.9M in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts Weigh In on Bullish Thesis

As expected after an exceptionally good quarter, the shares of First Solar are soaring in today’s trading session. As at 12:04PM EDT, the shares of First Solar have gained an impressive 17.73% to a trading price around $52.23.

Nonetheless, First Solar requires extra attention because of the trouble nature of its history. The firm has missed EPS estimates 10 out of the last 20 quarters. More so, it has a negative EPS surprise of (-15.23%) in the previous four quarters.

In the last one year, First Solar has lost 18.3% in its share price from a 52-week high of $73.78. However, the stock has gained 15.25% in the year-to-date. Hence, analysts’ opinions on are positive on First Solar going forward.

Leading the bullish thesis is the view of analysts at Robert W. Baird who raised their price target on the stock $69.00 in a research note that was issued today. The $69 PT marks a 55.06% upside potential on the stock.

Another bullish view on First Solar came from Paul Koster, an analyst at JP Morgan. He maintained his “Overweight” rating on the stock and he gave it a price target of $68. Koster says, “Further improvements, at scale, could be a game-changer for the industry if FSLR can provide module efficiencies

On the cautious side of the fence is a report from research analysts at Needham & Company LLC. In a research note that was released today, the analysts slashed their price target from $73.00 to $70.00. Yet, the Needham analysts have a “Buy” rating on the stock.

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Victor Alagbe is a seasoned business and finance writer with a specialty in writing about how to invest for the long-term in healthcare, pharmacology, energy and tech stocks. His long-term focus is on stocks that provide a nice mix of growth and income. For the short term, he passionately writes about trading stock options for the excitement and leverage that stock options offer.

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