First Solar Inc. 4Q profit jumps

By Anastasia Tomazhenkova: The thin-film solar equipment maker First Solar Inc. announced its fourth-quarter net income rose, as it ramped up production of renewable electricity modules.

Net income for the quarter climbed to 62.9 million dollars, or 77 cents per share, from 8 million dollars, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

Profit rose about 50% from the third quarter.

The Phoenix-based company reported revenue climbed to 201 million dollars from 52.7 million dollars in the year-ago period.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings of 53 cents per share and revenue of 180 million dollars, on average. During the fourth quarter, First Solar said it benefited from the full capacity of its new Frankfurt/Oder plant.

The Phoenix-based company said it decreased its manufacturing cost per watt by 12% from the year-ago quarter to 1.12 dollar per watt. First Solar, which uses cadmium telluride rather than silicon to turn sunlight into electricity inside its modules, was one of the hottest solar stocks in 2007, when its shares surged more than eight-fold. But like others in the sector, it has seen its stock plummet in 2008, shedding 34$ of its value.

Shares closed Tuesday at 175.53 dollars.

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