Declining Stock and Decent Financials: Is The Market Wrong About First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR)?

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With its stock down 20% over the past three months, it is easy to disregard First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR). But if you pay close attention, you might find that its key financial indicators look quite decent, which could mean that the stock could potentially rise in the long-term given how markets usually reward more resilient long-term fundamentals. In this article, we decided to focus on First Solar’s ROE.

Return on Equity or ROE is a test of how effectively a company is growing its value and managing investors’ money. Put another way, it reveals the company’s success at turning shareholder investments into profits.

See our latest analysis for First Solar

How Is ROE Calculated?

Return on equity 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:

3.7% = US$216m ÷ US$5.9b (Based on the trailing twelve months to March 2022).

The ‘return’ is the profit over the last twelve months. That means that for every $1 worth of shareholders’ equity, the company generated $0.04 in profit.

Why Is ROE Important For Earnings Growth?

Thus far, we have learned that ROE measures how efficiently a company is generating its profits. We now need to evaluate how much profit the company reinvests or “retains” for future growth which then gives us an idea about the growth potential of the company. Generally speaking, other things being equal, firms with a high return on equity and profit retention, have a higher growth rate than firms that don’t share these attributes.

First Solar’s Earnings Growth And 3.7% ROE

It is quite clear that First Solar’s ROE is rather low. Even when compared to the industry average of 19%, the ROE figure is pretty disappointing. However, we we’re pleasantly surprised to see that First Solar grew its net income at a significant rate of 74% in the last five years. We reckon that there could be other factors at play here. For instance, the company has a low payout ratio or is being managed efficiently.

As a next step, we compared First Solar’s net income growth with the industry, and pleasingly, we found that the growth seen by the company is higher than the average industry growth of 24%.

past-earnings-growth

The basis for attaching value to a company is, to a great extent, tied to its earnings growth. It’s important for an investor to know whether the market has priced in the company’s expected earnings growth (or decline). 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 Efficiently Re-investing Its Profits?

Given that First Solar doesn’t pay any dividend to its shareholders, we infer that the company has been reinvesting all of its profits to grow its business.

Conclusion

In total, it does look like First Solar has some positive aspects to its business. With a high rate of reinvestment, albeit at a low ROE, the company has managed to see a considerable growth in its earnings. With that said, the latest industry analyst forecasts reveal that the company’s earnings growth is expected to slow down. To know more about the latest analysts predictions for the company, check out this visualization of analyst forecasts for the company.

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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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.