Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Solar spits the bit

Wow is this ugly. I'm listening to the First Solar (FSLR) call from yesterday after the close, and it's becoming clear why the stock cratered afterhours: doom and gloom! Lack of financing crushing demand? Check. Customer distress starting to eat away at backlog? Check. Intense price competition from module oversupply? You know it.

Maybe the scariest development is the disclosure that the company is starting to take ownership of some of the projects that had been customers. So they are being effectively pulled "downstream" (i.e. towards the actual construction/installation of solar facilities, away from their core business of making the panels) by the absence of financially healthy customers.

On the other hand, they're still profitable and they still have what could be the leading solar panel technology. I think it's got a 20% chance of becoming a $100 billion company, so at a $10 billion valuation I'm not selling. Things could easily get worse before they get better, though.

Disclosure: I own FSLR shares

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