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First Solar rolls out 2010 expansion plans

Posted: 22 Dec 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:First Solar Malaysia expansion  manufacturing  production line 

First Solar Inc. rolls out its 2010 financial guidance and capacity expansion plans which includes the addition of eight production lines at its manufacturing centre in Kulim, Malaysia starting production in first half 2011.

Fiscal year 2010 net sales are projected to be Rs.12,620.30 crore to Rs.13,555.14 crore ($2.7 to $2.9 billion), with EPS of Rs.282.79 to Rs. 320.18 ($6.05 to $6.85). The company plans to invest Rs.1,706.08 crore ($365 million) of capital to add two production plants, consisting of four manufacturing lines each. This expansion is expected to increase First Solar's annual capacity by 424MW, assuming Q3 09 reported annual line run rate of 53MW

"First Solar is expanding capacity to satisfy a global contracted and advanced pipeline of over 6GW from 2010-2012," said Rob Gillette, CEO, First Solar. "In 2009 we increased our contracted North American pipeline by approximately 1.5GW, expanding our penetration in transition markets. This drives further capacity needs around a demand pool that is less volatile and more predictable than the traditional feed in tariff-based markets."

With the announced expansion in Malaysia and the previously announced two-line factory in France, First Solar expects to add 10 production lines during 2010 and 2011, increasing capacity by over 48 per cent from current levels, bringing First Solar's annual or announced production capacity to approximately 1.8GW based on current production levels.

In 2010, First Solar forecasts net sales of Rs.12,620.30 crore to Rs.13,555.14 crore ($2.7 to $2.9 billion). Consolidated gross margins are expected to be 38 per cent with operating margins at 23-24 per cent, influenced by a mix shift to the systems business, which includes Rs.2,804.51 to Rs.3,739.35 crore ($0.6-0.8 billion) of EPC/project development. Start-up expenses associated with the Malaysian expansion are projected to be approximately Rs. 116.85 crore ($25 million), and stock-based compensation is projected to be Rs. 444.05 to Rs.490.79 crore ($95 to $105 million). Other assumptions include a tax rate of 15 per cent, annual blended euro exchange rate of Rs. 64.50 ($1.38) (based on a 2010 spot rate of Rs. 65.44 ($1.40)/Euro), and diluted shares outstanding of 8.60 to 8.70 crore (86 to 87 million). EPS is projected in the range of Rs.282.79 to Rs. 320.18 ($6.05 to $6.85). Total capital spending is projected to range from Rs. 2,337.09 to Rs. 2,570.80 crore ($500 to $550 million), including the Malaysian expansion. As a result, the Company expects to generate Rs.3,412.16 to Rs.3,692.61 crore ($730 to $790 million) of operating cash flow and Rs.841.35 to Rs.1,355.51 crore ($180 to $290 million) of free cash flow.

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