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First Solar Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) stock is down 12% today (Wednesday) after reporting Q4 adjusted earnings of $0.89 per share on revenue of $768 million. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had projected earnings per share (EPS) of $0.98 on revenue of $973 million.
The adjusted earnings added $0.25 per share related to a recent agreement for First Solar to sell its facility in Mesa, Ariz. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) earnings were $0.64 per share, which was down from $1.74 the year before.
Revenue for the full year 2013 was $3.31 billion – down 1.8% from 2012. Analysts at Zacks Investment Research had projected yearly revenue of $3.53 billion.
Earnings and revenue aren't the only numbers driving FSLR stock lower today. First-quarter guidance was also lackluster.
In its press release, First Solar projected Q1 earnings of $0.50 to $0.60 per share and revenue between $800 million and $900 million. Consensus estimates had placed EPS at $0.84 and revenue at $898.25 million.
While earnings and guidance figures left much to be desired for shareholders, there were some positives in FSLR's quarterly report…
Positives from First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) Earnings
First Solar focuses primarily on serving large utility projects, as opposed to residential solar customers. That allows FSLR to capitalize on massive solar projects that utility companies undertake.
Specifically, FSLR manufactures and sells photovoltaic (PV) solar modules that incorporate a thin-film semiconductor technology. These modules are what utility customers buy in bulk.
In the fourth quarter, the company reported cutting manufacturing costs by 17% on modules from $0.64 per watt in 2012 to $0.53 in 2013. Additionally, the company added bookings of 1.7 gigawatts in solar projects in 2013.
First Solar also set the world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar cell conversion efficiency at 20.4%. In layman's terms, FSLR has created the highest-performing solar module among companies using CdTe technology.
Finally, First Solar now has the largest operating PV plant in the Middle East after completing its plant in Dubai. The company also announced that its Topaz plant in California will be completed in 2014 and will be the largest solar farm in the United States.
Since FSLR investors were treated to both good and bad news in Tuesday's earnings report, here's how to play this solar stock now…