The company reported a fourth quarter GAAP loss per share of $(4.14), compared to GAAP earnings per share (EPS) of $1.95 in the prior quarter. The loss in the fourth quarter was due primarily to higher tax expense associated with US tax reform enacted in December 2017 and the timing of system project sales. Net income decreased compared to the prior quarter primarily as a result of lower net sales, the mix of lower gross profit projects, higher operating expenses and an increase in tax expense. Fourth quarter non-GAAP EPS, adjusted for restructuring and asset impairment charges and the impact of US tax reform, was $(0.25).
Cash and marketable securities at the end of the fourth quarter increased to $3.0 billion from $2.7 billion at the end of the prior quarter. The increase primarily resulted from cash received from projects sold in the prior quarter and third-party module sales. Cash flows from operations were $434 million in the fourth quarter.
“First Solar delivered another year of solid execution in 2017,” said Mark Widmar, CEO of First Solar. “On the technology front, we made significant progress preparing multiple factories for Series 6 manufacturing in 2018, including the production of our first complete module late last year. We had tremendous commercial success as we booked a record 7.7GWDC of new business in 2017, with 1.3GWDC booked so far in 2018. Our financial results were strong with 2017 non-GAAP EPS of $2.59 and operating cash flows in excess of $1.3 billion.”