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Is SolarCity a Wise Investment?

By Harris Roen

As a result of a disappointing earnings release, SolarCity (SCTY) took a shellacking on March 7th. The stock traded down 17.6% to the low of the day, and closed down 14.4%. Still, the stock is up 6.5% for the month, and the savvy investor would have gained 78% if they bought SCTY on the first day of trading in December 2012.

So what happened? Moreover, what is the outlook for this innovative solar company?

SCTY Losses Chart

It was no surprise that when SolarCity’s earnings results were released on March 6, the company had a net loss for 2012 (chart above). Though not as severe as the cash burn in other years since 2009, the company still lost $13.6 million for the year. This gave SolarCity a negative EPS of -0.54, which came in 23% lower than analysts’ expectations. These same analysts are seeing negative earning persist for the at least the next two years.

SCTY Revs Chart  

Not all the news was negative, though. Revenues grew tremendously for this company. Sales were up more than double of what they were in 2011, and almost triple that of sales in 2010 (chart above). The number of clients grew even faster, and though revenue per client decreased, the increased volume of clients more than made up for this (chart below). With the attractiveness of distributed solar in the U.S. going forward, and the expertise and desirable financing options SolarCity brings to the table, continued client growth is virtually assured.

SCTY Clients chart 
What I also find encouraging is that the customer acquisition cost, or the amount of money SolarCity spent to get a new customer, decreased dramatically in 2012. It reached an extreme of about $9,400 spent to obtain each new customer in 2011, but dropped to $1,223 in 2012. Compared to a revenue per customer in 2012 of $4,157, this is a hopeful sign for SolarCity’s business plan if these trends continue.

Though I still view SolarCity as an investment for the speculative portion of a portfolio, the long-term prospects for this company look good. It has had two impressive announcements of late – a contract with WalMart to install more than 4.7 megawatts of solar on stores in Ohio, and a high-profile partnership with Honda. Investors that are willing to ride the SCTY stock price rollercoaster are likely to be rewarded handsomely.

Disclosure

Individuals involved with the Roen Financial Report and Swiftwood Press LLC do not own or control shares of any companies mentioned in this article. It is possible that individuals may own or control shares of one or more of the underlying securities contained in the Mutual Funds or Exchange Traded Funds mentioned in this article. Any advice and/or recommendations made in this article are of a general nature and are not to be considered specific investment advice. Individuals should seek advice from their investment professional before making any important financial decisions. See Terms of Use for more information.

About the author

Harris Roen is Editor of the “ROEN FINANCIAL REPORT” by Swiftwood Press LLC, 82 Church Street, Suite 303, Burlington, VT 05401. © Copyright 2010 Swiftwood Press LLC. All rights reserved; reprinting by permission only. For reprints please contact us at cservice@swiftwood.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Roen Financial Report, 82 Church Street, Suite 303, Burlington, VT 05401. Application to Mail at Periodicals Postage Prices is Pending at Burlington VT and additional Mailing offices.
Remember to always consult with your investment professional before making important financial decisions.



was posted on AltEnergyStocks.com.


       

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Comments

I've said it a million times. Alternative energies will come into their own when they are economically viable - and this argument should be the one used. Not only KW /hour but installation must be kept in mind. Many tech firms will be forced to merge as new technologies (new materials, technologies, breakthroughs) obsolete current workings.

Solar is similar to any other new technology in that a long experimental phase leads into recursively cheaper and more efficient products. The rise in revenue and customers is very positive.

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