First Solar Delays 2017 Guidance on Choppy Revenue Recognition

  • Analysts were expecting initial 2017 guidance at meeting
  • Chief Executive Officer Jim Hughes cites 'moving pieces'

First Solar Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jim Hughes declined to provide estimates for 2017 earnings during a presentation in New York where analysts were expecting an outlook from the biggest U.S. photovoltaic manufacturer.

“We have a lot of moving pieces heading into 2017,” Hughes said at an analysts meeting in New York on Tuesday. Revenue recognition rules cause “very lumpy results.”

In addition to selling solar panels to other developers, First Solar invests in utility-scale solar farms over years. Those projects generally can only be reported as revenue when completed plants are sold to investors or to its 8point3 Energy Partners LP joint venture.

First Solar last year had its strongest results since 2010 with earnings of $5.47 a share as the industry rushed to complete new solar farms before a key U.S. incentive expired. In February, Hughes reiterated his outlook for profit to dip to $4 to $4.50 a share this year. The average of 18 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg called for a further decline to $3.76 a share in 2017.

The shares fell 4.2 percent to $64.45 at 10:56 a.m. in New York, and are down from a 52-week high of $74.29 on March 18.

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