First Solar, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:FSLR) Stock is Soaring But Financials Seem Inconsistent: Will The Uptrend Continue?

By
Simply Wall St
Published
January 14, 2021

First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR) has had a great run on the share market with its stock up by a significant 27% over the last three months. However, we wonder if the company's inconsistent financials would have any adverse impact on the current share price momentum. Particularly, we will be paying attention to First Solar's ROE today.

Return on equity or ROE is an important factor to be considered by a shareholder because it tells them how effectively their capital is being reinvested. In other words, it is a profitability ratio which measures the rate of return on the capital provided by the company's shareholders.

See our latest analysis for First Solar

How Do You Calculate Return On Equity?

ROE can be calculated by using the formula:

Return on Equity = Net Profit (from continuing operations) ÷ Shareholders' Equity

So, based on the above formula, the ROE for First Solar is:

4.1% = US$223m ÷ US$5.4b (Based on the trailing twelve months to September 2020).

The 'return' is the income the business earned over the last year. So, this means that for every $1 of its shareholder's investments, the company generates a profit of $0.04.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

So far, we've learned that ROE is a measure of a company's profitability. Depending on how much of these profits the company reinvests or "retains", and how effectively it does so, we are then able to assess a company’s earnings growth potential. Assuming all else is equal, companies that have both a higher return on equity and higher profit retention are usually the ones that have a higher growth rate when compared to companies that don't have the same features.

A Side By Side comparison of First Solar's Earnings Growth And 4.1% ROE

At first glance, First Solar's ROE doesn't look very promising. A quick further study shows that the company's ROE doesn't compare favorably to the industry average of 11% either. Therefore, it might not be wrong to say that the five year net income decline of 26% seen by First Solar was probably the result of it having a lower ROE. We believe that there also might be other aspects that are negatively influencing the company's earnings prospects. Such as - low earnings retention or poor allocation of capital.

However, when we compared First Solar's growth with the industry we found that while the company's earnings have been shrinking, the industry has seen an earnings growth of 15% in the same period. This is quite worrisome.

NasdaqGS:FSLR Past Earnings Growth January 14th 2021

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. The investor should try to establish if the expected growth or decline in earnings, whichever the case may be, is priced in. Doing so will help them establish if the stock's future looks promising or ominous. One good indicator of expected earnings growth is the P/E ratio which determines the price the market is willing to pay for a stock based on its earnings prospects. So, you may want to check if First Solar is trading on a high P/E or a low P/E, relative to its industry.

Is First Solar Making Efficient Use Of Its Profits?

Conclusion

In total, we're a bit ambivalent about First Solar's performance. While the company does have a high rate of profit retention, its low rate of return is probably hampering its earnings growth. With that said, we studied current analyst estimates and discovered that analysts expect the company's earnings growth to improve slightly. This could offer some relief to the company's existing shareholders. To know more about the company's future earnings growth forecasts take a look at this free report on analyst forecasts for the company to find out more.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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