First Solar Inc. (FSLR) bought San Jose-based Tetrasun, a rooftop photovoltaic (PV) startup founded in 2009, from JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. and other investors including TetraSun’s management, says Bloomberg. Tetrasun’s solar panels use silicon and are more efficient than First Solar’s thin-film panels, making them better suited to the residential rooftop solar market.
The acquisition of Tetrasun enables First Solar to enter the rooftop solar market, and, in particular, capitalize on the major solar opportunity in Japan. It also puts First Solar in direct competition with SunPower Corp., the largest U.S. maker of silicon-based solar panels.
New Energy Finance predicts that Japan will become the second-largest global solar market in 2013, behind China, and boost solar installations of 6.1 GW to 9.4 GW, driven by Japan’s solar incentive system launched last year. First solar plans to open a factory in Japan to produce Tetrasun’s first commercial panels for the Japanese market next year.
First Solar’s Q1 earnings, announced Tuesday, beat analyst’s forecasts causing its stock to surge 46 percent on the day. The company forecasted sales of $3.8 billion to $4 billion this year. Earnings will be $4 to $4.50 a share, exceeding the $3.57 average of 23 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The stock is down 6.81 percent as of midday Wednesday.
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