The world's supercharged performers

7 of 100
7. First Solar
First Solar
Rank: 7 (Previous rank: N.A.)
CEO: Robert J. Gillette
Address: 350 W. Washington St.
Tempe, AZ 85281-1244
Since its founding 11 years ago, First Solar (see "Rising Stars") has emerged as the world's largest supplier of photovoltaic solar panels, according to IMS Research. The Arizona-based firm, which provides "thin-film" panels for solar projects in Germany, Japan and Italy, has recently expanded to China. In the past two years, it's also made a push into the U.S. utility-scale market by acquiring rivals NextLight and OptiSolar.

With a focus on leading the industry in lowest cost per watt, the firm has posted sunny results with three-year annualized earnings-per-share growth of 228% and revenues soaring 141% for the same period.--D.M.

What kind of businesses do you think are primed to grow in a sluggish economy?
  $ millions
(past 4 qtrs.)
% growth
(3 yr. annual rate)
Growth rank
Revenues** 2,216.0 141 3
Net income** 647.9 ó ó
Total return ó 8 64
Earnings per share ó 228 1
Share price  
As of 8/4/10 $131.45
Beat the S&P 500* Yes
P/E (current fiscal year est.) 18
Industry: Energy
Industry rank Company Fastest-Growing
($ millions)
1 First Solar 7 2,216.0
2 ITC Holdings 59 626.4
3 Trina Solar 69 1,049.9
4 Atwood Oceanics 72 603.7
5 SunPower 86 1,659.9
From the September 6, 2010 issue.
* Through June 30, 2010. The S&P 500 returned -9.81% annually over the same period.
** Through the quarter ended on or before April 30, 2010.
See First Solar in...
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International Assets Holding 228%
SXC Health Solutions 218%
First Solar 141%
First Solar 228%
Sapient 188%
International Assets Holding 185%
Netflix 78%
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters 64%
Ebix 52%
To qualify, a company -- domestic or foreign -- must be trading on a major U.S. stock exchange; file quarterly reports to the SEC; have a minimum market... More