Shares of First Solar Inc. (FSLR: Charts, News) the world’s number two provider of solar cells, rose +2.62 per share, or +21.25 percent on Tuesday, after the company announced plans to ramp up its production at its plant in Germany, which was slated for closure in October of this year. Furthermore, First Solar disclosed late Monday that it had signed contracts for the construction of two large utility projects for Australian energy provider AGL Energy.
First Solar stock recently hit an all-time low price of $11.43 per share earlier this month. The company’s stock has been steadily declining since early 2011 when it was trading over $150 per share. First Solar’s stock price had approached $300 per share in mid 2009 after having its IPO at a price of $20 per share in 2006.
Tempe, Arizona based First Solar Inc. is considered the world’s second largest producer of photovoltaic (PV) modules. The company, founded in 1990 uses cadmium telluride or CdTe as a semiconductor producing solar panels far more efficiently and at a lower cost than with crystalline silicon.
Tuesday’s strong upward move in the company’s stock came after it announced it would increase production at its facility near the Polish border in Germany after disclosing in April it would be shutting the plant down in October. First Solar maintains it will still close the facility, but that it would ramp up production until October after which it would taper off until closing the plant at the end of the year.
The plant, which employs about 1,200 people, will continue in operation due to increased demand for First Solar’s products in Germany, which is the world’s largest market for solar energy. In addition, First Solar operates a second plant in Frankfurt which has been operating at reduced hours since early this year and will also increase production.
Furthermore, First Solar announced late Monday that it was selected to design, construct and maintain two utility scale solar photovoltaic power projects which would total 159 megawatts for Australian energy company, AGL Energy Limited. The project is part of Australia’s Solar Flagships Program, a government project providing state and federal funding for Australia’s commitment to investment in renewable energy generation.
Other developments at First Solar include its partnering with Intermolecular IMI to develop methods for raising the efficiency of its solar panels. First Solar set a new world record in January, when its CdTe PV module reached a total area efficiency of 14.4 percent, which followed its CdTe solar cell efficiency of 17.3 percent.
Cadmium telluride photovoltaic or CdTe consist of a technology for PV based on cadmium telluride thin film, which acts as a semiconductor absorbing sunlight and converting it into electricity. CdTe technology is a much cheaper solar cell production alternative than crystalline silicon.
After several years of steep declines in the price of First Solar stock, the underlying fundamentals for the company appear to be improving. Whether recent developments will be enough to lift the stock’s price to previous levels remains to be seen.
Other News About FSLR
Marketwatch article on Australian contract awarded to FSLR
Seeking Alpha article on FSLR’s future prospects.
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