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First Solar shares slide on rating cut

Oct 5 (Reuters) - Shares of First Solar Inc , the largest U.S. solar panel maker, fell more than 11 percent after Avian Securities LLC downgraded the stock, citing reliability issues with one of the company's products.

The brokerage downgraded the stock to "negative" from "positive," saying problems related to the junction box on First Solar modules could potentially cause electrical shock or fire.

"One of the greatest risks to investing in shares of FSLR is the real (or perceived) durability and reliability of its product," analyst Mark Bachman wrote in a note to clients.

"We believe First Solar is actively contacting customers now to repair or replace the modules," Bachman added.

First Solar was not immediately available for comment.

The company took a charge of $164 million in the fourth quarter for warranty payments to replace equipment that caused power loss in certain panels.

A broker who did not wish to be named pegged the fall in First Solar's shares to the Avian downgrade.

Shares of the company, valued at about $1.96 billion as of Thursday, were down 11 percent at $19.90 in mid-day trade on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Sunayan Bhattacharjee in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)

((sunayan.bhattacharje@thomsonreuters.com, within U.S. +1 646223 8780, outside U.S. +91 80 4135 5800, Reuters Messaging: sunayan.bhattacharje.reuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: FIRSTSOLAR SHARES/