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First Solar plummets 18% after global surplus of panels

First Solar Inc.
Source: First Solar
First Solar Inc.

First Solar shares shed nearly 15 percent Thursday after the company reported a 30 percent price drop in solar panels, which has forced it to walk away from some money-losing supply contracts.

The largest U.S. solar equipment maker attributed the lower price point to a fall-off in demand from China, resulting in a global oversupply of panels. Customers have delayed signing contracts in hopes of further price declines and the company has also passed on some deals because they did not make economic sense, First Solar said.

"We won't chase pricing to the bottom," Chief Financial Officer Alex Bradley said on a conference call.

The company said it plans to accelerate the introduction of a cheaper, more competitive module. First Solar also declined to give an outlook for 2017, saying it would provide more detail on Nov. 16.

First Solar reported adjusted earnings of $1.22 a share on Wednesday after the bell, easily surpassing earnings expectations of 74 cents a share, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. Its third-quarter net income fell to $154 million, down from $349 million a year earlier.

The company's stock is down more than 47 percent year to date.

—Reuters contributed to this report.