First Solar Swings to Profit in Q4 on Strong US Demand

The company’s net sales jumped 33% to $1.2 billion

February 28, 2024


U.S.-based solar module manufacturer First Solar reported a fourth-quarter (Q4) net income of $349 million, swinging to profit from last year’s loss of $7.5 million, as the company saw robust demand for its modules in the U.S.

“Despite industry macro challenges such as global oversupply and pricing volatility, we continue to see strong mid to long-term demand, especially in the United States,” said CEO Mark Widmar in a post-earnings conference call with analysts.

Net sales for Q4 2023 rose 33% to $1.2 billion from $0.9 billion in the same period last year, driven by higher module volumes sold, in particular the Series 7 modules and average selling prices (ASP). At the same time, the cost of sales fell by about 30% despite higher net sales, boosting the bottom-line figures.

Gross margin for Q4 was 43%, compared to 47% last year. The decrease was due to the sale of tax credits, a higher mix of non-U.S. factory sales, and legacy production material write-offs.

The company also took a $23 million impairment charge in the quarter from its investment in solar-wafer technology firm CubicPV, which abandoned its plans to set up a silicon wafer manufacturing facility in the U.S. owing to surging construction costs and declining wafer prices, thus triggering the impairment.

Full Year 2023

For 2023, First Solar posted a net income of $831 million, compared to a loss of $464 million for the full year (FY) 2022. Net sales for 2023 increased 27% to $3.3 billion from $2.6 billion in 2022.

The company attributed the improved results to higher module volumes sold and ASPs. It sold 11.4 GW of modules in 2023, up from 7.3 GW in 2022. The company also reported net bookings of 28.3 GW for 2023.

First Solar produced a record 12.1 GW of solar modules in 2023, representing a 33% increase in production over 2022. The company expects to expand manufacturing capacity to 25 GW by the end of 2026, including 14 GW of U.S. capacity.

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.

Last year, the company entered into two separate tax credit transfer agreements to sell $500 million and up to $200 million of Inflation Reduction Act advanced manufacturing production tax credits to Fiserv, a financial technology services provider. The tax credits are the outcome of the sale of solar modules produced in 2023 by First Solar’s operational manufacturing facilities in the U.S., including its recently commissioned third Ohio factory.