February 21, 2017 / 9:56 PM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 2-First Solar raises 2017 revenue view on project timing

(Adds details from conference call)

Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. solar company First Solar Inc raised its 2017 sales forecast due to the timing of the sale of a major project, but said a large facility in Arizona had been canceled due to opposition to its location on tribal lands.

First Solar also said it had been forced to write down the value of its Barilla Solar project in Texas because a slide in power prices since its construction in 2014 had hurt profitability.

Shares of the company, which also reported better-than-expected profit and revenue, were up less than 1 percent at $36.62 in trading after the bell on Tuesday.

First Solar raised its 2017 net sales forecast to $2.8 billion to $2.9 billion from $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion.

The new revenue forecast allows for full recognition on the 250-megawatt Moapa project sale, located northeast of Las Vegas.

First Solar said the more than 300-megawatt Tribal Solar project, which was planned for the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation in Arizona, would not be built. The company’s contract to sell the power to California utility Southern California Edison was canceled.

Executives described the cancellation as a one-time event due to the unique concerns of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe and said the company had several opportunities to offset the impact of the cancellation, including new business in Japan.

Solar companies are struggling with a sharp decline in panel prices since the middle of 2016, but First Solar Chief Executive Officer Mark Widmar said bookings had picked up since the end of last year.

First Solar said in November it would cut about 27 percent of its workforce and transition to a new product ahead of schedule. The company is bringing forward production of its Series 6 modules to 2018 and abandoning plans for the Series 5 product.

First Solar reported a net loss of $719.9 million, or $6.92 per share, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $164.1 million, or $1.60 per share, a year earlier.

The company said on Tuesday it recorded $728.9 million in charges in the latest quarter related to plans to abandon the Series 5 modules and other restructuring.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.24 per share, far ahead of the average analysts’ estimate of 97 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company’s net sales nearly halved to $480.4 million, but beat analysts’ estimate of $412.8 million. (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Lisa Shumaker)

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