First Solar shares fall due to growth concerns
(Reuters) - Shares of First Solar Inc (FSLR.O) fell 11 percent on Tuesday after the solar panel maker said a weather-related project delay would push most of its earnings into the second half of the year.
The 230-megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One project in California is now expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, the company said on Monday. The project was to have been ready by the second quarter.
First Solar also reported lower-than-expected earnings and said it would cut about 150 jobs, or 3 percent of its workforce, as it grapples with low panel prices.
Ahead of Monday's earnings report, First Solar shares had gained 76 percent since its April 9 analyst meeting at which it said revenue and earnings for the next three years would be well above most Wall Street estimates. It also announced that it would acquire a new solar technology.
"2013 guidance was maintained, but the risk has increased after management said the majority of earnings will come in H2," analysts at DNB Markets said in a note to clients. They downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy."
Analysts at Needham & Co said First Solar's earnings report did not provide enough incremental information to improve clarity into its revenue and earnings targets.
Analysts also reiterated concerns about the company's ability to convert opportunities in the pipeline into contracts.
First Solar has identified about 5.5 gigawatt (GW) of booking opportunities, but only about 0.7 GW is classified as late-stage development.
"2013 and 2014 targets require about 1.8 GW of newly booked shipments over the next 18 to 24 months, which will be difficult to deliver from a 700 MW pipeline," said Pacific Crest Securities analyst Ben Schuman.
First Solar shares were down about 10 percent at $43.13 at midday on the Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Garima Goel in Bangalore and Nichola Groom in Los Angeles; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)
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