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First Solar Posts Disappointing Q1 Results

First Solar, which recently announced it was shuttering its Germany facility, idling lines in Malaysia and laying off 30 percent of its global workforce, detailed some of the struggles facing the company with its quarterly report.

In its report to investors, the American-based thin film giant, said it lost $449 million in the first quarter alone. The company report also said that much of the loss was impacted by pre-tax charges related to the restructuring.

"First Solar's performance in the quarter was impacted by an aggressive competitive environment resulting from persistent supply-demand imbalances in the market, as well as restructuring costs that will improve our operating efficiency and help position us for the future," said Mike Ahearn, Chairman of the Board.

First Solar’s thin film technology, which once had a commanding cost advantage over silicon-based solar panels, is seeing that lead evaporate as Chinese modules continue to close the gap.

The news was among several announcements the company made this week.

  • First Solar and Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Solar marked the start of major construction of the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farms in San Luis Obispo County in California. The project will employ approximately 400 workers during its three-year construction period.
  • James Hughes, formerly the Chief Commercial Officer, will take the helm as CEO. Ahearn, who has been serving as the interim CEO since October, will continue his role as Chairman of the Board. Also, Dave Eaglesham, Chief Technology Officer, has retired and he will be replaced by Raffi Garabedian.
  • Sujoy Ghosh will lead business development in India and manage the company's new entity based in New Delhi, where he will work to expand the market for utility-scale projects.

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