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First Solar hit by lower prices and restructuring cost – new CEO

First Solar fell into loss of US$ 449.4 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2012, compared with a net profit of US$116m in the same period last year, as the company was hit by low prices for solar and restructuring costs.

By Kari Williamson

Net sales were down 12% to US$467.1m.

First Solar's performance in the quarter was impacted by an aggressive competitive environment resulting from persistent supply-demand imbalances in the market, as well as restructuring costs that will improve our operating efficiency and help position us for the future,” Mike Ahearn, Chairman of the Board, says.

“Looking forward, we are confident we have the right long-term strategy and the right platform to enable growth and value creation. We believe that by executing our strategic roadmaps and completing our restructuring program, we can achieve our targets of 2.6 to 3.0 GW of sales in sustainable markets, earning a return on invested capital of 13 to 17% by 2016.”

New CEO and CTO

In connection with the Q1 results, First Solar also announced the hiring of its new CEO, James Hughes, who originally joined First Solar in March as Chief Commercial Officer.

"Jim has been instrumental in developing the strategic plan that will enable us to compete and win in this new era for the solar industry, and it became clear he is the right person to lead the execution of that plan," Ahearn says.

"Jim brings a wide range of experience that will be invaluable in leading our organisation, having owned and operated utilities, built power projects, cultivated partnerships and led profitable growth in a wide array of key markets around the world."

First Solar has also appointed Raffi Garabedian as its new Chief Technology Officer as Dave Eaglesham retires. Garabedian joined First Solar in 2008 as Director of Disruptive Technologies, and was promoted to Vice President of Advanced Technologies in 2010, overseeing the Company's advanced research and development (R&D) operations in Santa Clara, California.

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