First Solar – Photovoltaic cost was reduced to US$0.73/watt

First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2010. Fourth quarter 2010 net sales were $610 million, a decrease of $188 million from the third quarter of 2010, primarily due to the timing of system sales and the December implementation of 2011 pricing, partially offset by an increase in volume. Quarterly net sales decreased slightly from $641 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, due to decreased systems revenue and reduced module prices, partially offset by higher volume. Net sales for the fiscal year 2010 were $2,564 million, up 24% from $2,066 million in fiscal year 2009.

Fourth quarter net income per fully diluted share was $1.80, down from $2.04 in the third quarter of 2010 and up from $1.65 in the fourth quarter of 2009. Quarter over quarter, the net income decrease was primarily driven by lower net sales and increased expenses, partially offset by higher gross margins. Year over year, the net income increase was primarily driven by higher module production and lower module cost per watt, partially offset by reduced module average selling prices and increased expenses. Fiscal 2010 net income per fully diluted share was $7.68, up from $7.53 in fiscal 2009.

First Solar achieved several milestones in 2010:

* Module manufacturing cost for the fourth quarter was reduced to $0.75/watt, down 11% year over year
* Line throughput was up 17% year over year to 62.6 MW; increasing operating and announced capacity to 2.9 GW by 2012
* Module conversion efficiency rose 0.5% year over year to 11.6%
* Exceeded 3 GW of cumulative production, and produced 1.4 GW in 2010
* Built the largest operational solar PV plant in the world, Sarnia (Canada, 80 MW) and the largest in the U.S., Copper Mountain (Nevada, 48 MW)
* Pending Agua Caliente (290 MW) sale to NRG; will be the largest PV facility in the world when completed in 2013
* Acquired NextLight and Edison Mission Group to expand our North American captive project pipeline to 2.4 GW

"In the fourth quarter the operations team executed well, and we sold 400 MW of projects in North America, positioning us to achieve our 2011 growth goals," said Rob Gillette, CEO of First Solar. "We have good demand visibility in 2011 and a broader geographic reach, which gives us confidence in our ability to sell the 2 GW that we plan to produce."

For 2011, First Solar is updating guidance as follows:

* Net sales of $3.7 to $3.8 billion
* Operating income of $910 to $980 million
* Earnings per fully diluted share of $9.25 to $9.75
* Includes $60 to $70 million of manufacturing start-up expenses and $15 to $20 million of factory ramp costs
* Total capital spending of $1.0 to $1.1 billion
* Operating cash flow of $1.0 to $1.1 billion

First Solar manufactures solar modules with an advanced semiconductor technology and provides comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) system solutions. The company is delivering an economically viable alternative to fossil-fuel generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life collection and recycling, First Solar is focused on creating cost-effective, renewable energy solutions that protect and enhance the environment.