First Solar Q1 Profit Soars 455% on Strong Sales, Improved Margins

The company’s net sales also rose by 45% year-over-year


U.S.-based First Solar’s net income for the first quarter (Q1) of 2024 surged by 455% to $236.6 million from $42.6 million in the same quarter last year, with the solar module manufacturer benefitting from higher sales volume and gross margins.

The company’s net sales in the same period rose by 45%, reaching $794.1 million, up from $548.3 million last year, primarily driven by increased demand for First Solar’s thin-film photovoltaic modules.

At the same time, operating expenses rose only by about 11% despite higher net sales, boosting the bottom-line figures.

First Solar’s gross margin in the first quarter also improved. It stood at 43.6%, representing a rise of 23.2 percentage points compared to the same quarter last year when it was 20.4%.

“We are pleased with our start to 2024 with good operating performance, selective year-to-date bookings of 2.7 gigawatts with an average selling price (ASP) over $0.31 per watt, excluding adjusters,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar, during a post-earnings conference call with analysts.

The company produced a record 3.6 GW of solar modules in the first quarter and said its total bookings backlog stood at 78.3 GW with an aggregate value of $23.3 billion extending through 2030.

Looking ahead, First Solar reiterated its full-year 2024 guidance, indicating confidence in its ability to maintain the momentum. But Widmar also hinted at challenges, saying, “We must acknowledge the current environment in the solar manufacturing industry, which remains in a state of heightened volatility driven by intentional structural overcapacity in China.”

“The Chinese solar industry has engaged in a race to the bottom with a rationally low market-distorting pricing that has caused even Chinese companies to call for intervention by the Chinese government …,” he said, adding that First Solar is not immune to the broader ramifications of the Chinese solar business model.

Earlier this year, the company inaugurated its fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India. The India facility, with a nameplate capacity of 3.3 GW, joins the ranks of First Solar’s operational factories in the U.S., Malaysia, and Vietnam.

“Our India facility is continuing to ramp. And we’re proud that the first Indian-made Series 7 modules have been deployed in the field,” said Widmar. “This year, we’ll produce about 2.6 GW of product in India. And we’ll be shipping about 1 GW, maybe slightly north of that, into the U.S. market.”

First Solar was recently added to the Approved List of Models and Manufacturers (ALMM) issued by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) with an annual supply capacity of 3,212 MW. Widmar said that since the ALMM has gone back into place, ASPs, which are generally lower in India compared to the U.S., have moved up 5% or 10% from before the ALMM.

The Arizona-based company also performed well in the previous quarter, swinging to a profit compared to a year-ago loss on strong demand from the U.S. market.