August 1, 2012 / 8:36 PM / 5 years ago

First Solar quarterly profits rise, hikes forecast

(Reuters) - First Solar Inc (FSLR.O), the biggest U.S. solar panel maker, posted higher second-quarter profits on Wednesday as earnings from its construction of large power plants jumped, and it raised its full-year profit forecast, sending its shares higher.

Net income rose to $111 million, or $1.27 per share, from $61 million, or 70 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenues jumped 80 percent to $957 million in the quarter.

It raised its forecast for full-year earnings per share to a range of $4.20 to $4.70 from its May forecast of $4.00 to $4.50, and increased its sales forecast range to $3.6 billion to $3.9 billion.

The outlook for solar companies has soured over the past year as prices for solar panels plummeted amid a glut of production, eroding profit margins in the young industry and knocking their shares to record lows.

First Solar, whose thin-film panels have long been the lowest priced in the industry, has seen its advantage eroded as competitors sharply cut their costs to keep pace with the global drop in selling price.

Shares in First Solar jumped nearly 15 percent after the earnings release in extended trading to $17.00.

Reporting By Matt Daily; Editing by Richard Chang

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