UPDATE 2-First Solar profit hit by choppy revenue from projects

Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:49pm EST
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* 4th-quarter adj profit $0.89 /share vs est.$0.99

* Sees 1st-quarter profit of $0.50-$0.60/share vs est. $0.84

* Shares down 12 pct

By Swetha Gopinath

Feb 25 (Reuters) - U.S. solar company First Solar Inc reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit and forecast weak first-quarter earnings, hurt by irregular revenue from its solar projects.

The solar panel maker's shares, which have gained three-quarters of their value in the past year, slipped 12 percent after the bell on Tuesday.

First Solar has focused on building utility-scale solar projects in the United States to offset weak panel prices, caused by a glut in Chinese production and a sharp fall in European consumer subsidies for solar energy.

The company generates over 80 percent of its revenue from selling power plants to utilities, but analysts have raised concerns about the company's revenue recognition pattern.

"First Solar's earnings are hyper-choppy due to project revenue recognition," Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said.   Continued...