October 25, 2018 / 8:24 PM / 23 days ago

First Solar cuts 2018 earnings and sales outlook, shares slide

(Reuters) - First Solar Inc lowered its earnings and sales forecasts for the year on Thursday, citing lower-than-expected sales of solar panels, higher costs to ramp up manufacturing and the shift of a project sale into next year.

The company’s share slid 8 percent to $40 in after-hours trading following the announcement, after closing at $43.52 on the Nasdaq.

The U.S. solar panel producer said it expects 2018 earnings per share of $1.40 to $1.60, down from a prior view of $1.50 to $1.90. The sales forecast was lowered to a range of $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion, from a previous view of $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion.

First Solar has been ramping up manufacturing of its newest technology, called Series 6 panels, at factories in Ohio, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The Tempe, Arizona-based company has benefited from having a technology that is not subject to the 30 percent tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on solar imports this year. Its panels are made from cadmium telluride, while the tariffs apply only to traditional silicon solar products.

In a statement, however, First Solar lowered its forecast on module sales, which it said was partly to blame for its trimmed 2018 forecast. It said the primary reason for the cut was the shift of a project sale in Japan to 2019 from 2018.

First Solar also reported third-quarter net income of $57.8 million, or 54 cents per share, on sales of $676 million.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio

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