Q4 Preview: First Solar (FSLR) Investors Eye Europe, But India Might Be Key

First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR) shares are trading higher Tuesday heading into the solar giant's fourth-quarter earnings report, expected out after the market close.

The Street is currently looking for First Solar to report a 12.8 percent decrease in earnings to $1.54 per share. Revenue should pop 20.6 percent to $781.6 million. First Solar has notably missed analysts expectations by an average of 5.7 percent over the last five quarters.

Shares of First Solar fell 47 percent to $33.76 through the quarter and are up about 9 percent since, looking to claw back from a 74 percent drop in 2011.

In December, First Solar reduced its fiscal 2011 sales guidance from $3 to $3.3 billion to a range of $2.8 to $2.9 billion and its EPS outlook from $6.50 to $7.50 to a range of $5.75 to $6.

Data from Bloomberg shows seven analysts with a Buy rating on First Solar, 28 at Hold, and six with a Sell. The Street's price target average is $38, with a low of $20 and high of $65. First Solar has traded within a range of $29.87 to $163 over the last year, and the average price target suggests slight upside from its current level.

Analyst Comments

  • Deutsche Bank sees earnings of $1.47 and revs of $751 million. Module shipments should be 535-MW and gross margins of 57.5 percent.

    Deutsche sees strong momentum in India, but First Solar's backlog is concerning. The firm commented, "Our checks indicate that FSLR is poised to supply modules to ~80 percent to 90 percent of the 2012 national solar mission projects or more than ~200-MW. Additionally, the company is working with several state government programs which could add another ~200-MW demand from these customers in 2012. Although India could represent more than ~20% of 2012 production, we note that a large majority of these projects assume that low cost financing will be available from US EXIM bank. Without strong financing support, we believe several of these large projects would likely be at risk."

  • Collins Stewart sees revs of $767 million and EPS of $1.57 in the quarter. The firm recently issued a note on the 230-MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One ( AVSR ) project. Though there were some tie-ups in LA County, the firm believes that First Solar acquired the proper permits and will now be able to receive DoE funds.

Stay tuned to's EPS Insider section to see our analysis of the highly-anticipated quarterly results within seconds of their release. You can also check out First Solar's past performance at Streetinsider's First Solar's Income Statement .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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