Zacks Investment Research lowered shares of First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research report sent to investors on Friday.

According to Zacks, “First Solar faces intense competition from manufacturers of crystalline-silicon solar modules, and other types of solar modules and PV systems with respect to reliability and selling price per watt. Moreover, the company's shares underperformed the industry in the last one year. In the second quarter, First Solar incurred a production start-up cost of $24.4 million, compared to year-ago quarter’s cost of $8.4 million. Evidently, such higher costs incurred by the company may have discouraged investors’ interest in this stock. However, First Solar has installed more than 7.5 GW installed worldwide, making it the leading global provider of PV energy solutions. First Solar also continues to strengthen its presence in the Middle East, Australia, Japan and India.”

A number of other equities research analysts also recently commented on the company. BidaskClub downgraded First Solar from a sell rating to a strong sell rating in a research report on Wednesday, September 12th. Roth Capital set a $90.00 target price on First Solar and gave the stock a buy rating in a research report on Friday, July 27th. Bank of America upgraded First Solar from a neutral rating to a buy rating and set a $63.00 target price on the stock in a research report on Monday, June 25th. Morgan Stanley reduced their price objective on First Solar from $64.00 to $61.00 and set an equal weight rating on the stock in a research note on Monday, July 16th. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. set a $79.00 price objective on First Solar and gave the stock a buy rating in a research note on Wednesday, August 1st. Six research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, six have assigned a hold rating and nine have assigned a buy rating to the company’s stock. First Solar currently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $70.85.

Shares of NASDAQ:FSLR traded up $0.16 during mid-day trading on Friday, reaching $45.53. The stock had a trading volume of 1,105,983 shares, compared to its average volume of 1,905,668. The company has a current ratio of 4.89, a quick ratio of 4.60 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.09. The company has a market capitalization of $5.07 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.58, a P/E/G ratio of 1.81 and a beta of 1.46. First Solar has a 1 year low of $44.72 and a 1 year high of $81.72.

First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) last posted its earnings results on Thursday, July 26th. The solar cell manufacturer reported ($0.46) EPS for the quarter, missing analysts’ consensus estimates of ($0.03) by ($0.43). The firm had revenue of $309.00 million during the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $509.19 million. First Solar had a positive return on equity of 4.12% and a negative net margin of 8.35%. First Solar’s quarterly revenue was down 50.4% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter in the prior year, the firm posted $0.64 earnings per share. On average, research analysts forecast that First Solar will post 1.68 earnings per share for the current year.

In other news, CTO Raffi Garabedian sold 4,159 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, August 1st. The stock was sold at an average price of $52.91, for a total transaction of $220,052.69. Following the transaction, the chief technology officer now owns 5,520 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $292,063.20. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, insider Georges Antoun sold 3,142 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, July 23rd. The shares were sold at an average price of $52.72, for a total value of $165,646.24. Following the transaction, the insider now directly owns 71,251 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,756,352.72. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 11,614 shares of company stock worth $609,251 over the last three months. 0.54% of the stock is currently owned by insiders.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in the company. BlackRock Inc. grew its stake in shares of First Solar by 1.3% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 7,393,496 shares of the solar cell manufacturer’s stock valued at $389,341,000 after buying an additional 98,465 shares during the last quarter. OppenheimerFunds Inc. grew its stake in shares of First Solar by 98.9% during the second quarter. OppenheimerFunds Inc. now owns 2,014,693 shares of the solar cell manufacturer’s stock valued at $106,094,000 after buying an additional 1,001,993 shares during the last quarter. Luminus Management LLC grew its stake in shares of First Solar by 5,435.8% during the second quarter. Luminus Management LLC now owns 1,292,562 shares of the solar cell manufacturer’s stock valued at $68,067,000 after buying an additional 1,269,213 shares during the last quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP grew its stake in shares of First Solar by 14.3% during the second quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 1,169,076 shares of the solar cell manufacturer’s stock valued at $61,561,000 after buying an additional 146,447 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Calamos Advisors LLC grew its stake in shares of First Solar by 56.6% during the second quarter. Calamos Advisors LLC now owns 862,950 shares of the solar cell manufacturer’s stock valued at $45,443,000 after buying an additional 311,998 shares during the last quarter. 54.20% of the stock is currently owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

First Solar Company Profile

First Solar, Inc provides photovoltaic solar energy solutions in the United States and internationally. It operates through two segments, Components and Systems. The Components segment designs, manufactures, and sells cadmium telluride solar modules that convert sunlight into electricity. This segment offers its products to integrators and operators.

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