First Solar’s Bright Future

At a time when banks can’t see how much money they’ve lost in the present, let alone tell us what they’ll earn in the future, Cramer said, First Solar offers investors something a lot of other companies can’t: a profit forecast through 2012.

Apparently, First Solar has locked in over $6 billion in contracts for the next five years. “There are very few companies that can give you this kind of visibility,” Cramer said, “especially not in the solar business.”

First Solar is arguably a step above its competitors because the Phoenix-based company’s product isn’t dependent on silicon wafers, which, because of the short supply and steep prices of silicon, are a big bottleneck for the rest of the industry, Cramer said. The stock has exploded 429% since he first recommended it March 7 thanks to First Solar’s cheaper way to generate solar power.

That doesn’t mean it’s too late to get in, though, Cramer said. According to UBS, First Solar is trading at less than 24 times 2010 earnings, but the company has a 56% long-term growth rate. (Remember Cramer’s maxim that a stock with about a 1:1 ratio of the price-to-earnings multiple and growth rate is cheap. So First Solar at 1:2 is at borderline fire-sale prices.) “The multiple is chump change,” Cramer said. “First Solar could go much higher.”

There’s a potential upside catalyst next year, too. First Solar is supposed to announce its first utility customer in the U.S. The media attention alone should boost the stock.

But it’s First Solar’s “no surprises” future thanks to earnings visibility that Cramer likes the best. “We can see their future profits now,” he said, “and in this market, what a terrific compliment to pay any stock.”

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