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First Solar Flares

First Solar (nasdaq: FSLR - news - people )'s shares soared 27.0%, or $47.67, to $223.23, in afternoon trading, and other makers of solar-energy equipment also advanced.

For the fourth quarter the Phoenix-based solar-panel maker reported a 686.3% increase in earnings, to $62.9 million, or 77 cents per share, from $8.0 million, or 12 cents per share, reported a year earlier.

First Solar's earnings came on the back of a near-quadrupling of sales, to $200.8 million, from the $52.7 million, in 2006.

The results were far better than Wall Street's predictions. The consensus among analysts was for earnings of 53 cents per share and sales of $179.6 million. "They were fantastic," said Adam Hinckley, an analyst at Oppenheimer, "no one was expecting anything this quarter."

Hinckley said the key to the quarter's success

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