SolarCity (SCTY) more than doubled its loss vs. a year earlier, while revenue fell short of Q2 analyst estimates. But shares extended gains late Thursday as the No. 1 U.S. residential solar installer said its customer base doubled.
The San Mateo, Calif.-based company lost 96 cents a share on soaring expenses vs. a 43-cent loss a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a loss of 99 cents.
Revenue rose 62% to $61.3 million, missing estimates of $63.2 million. Q1 sales leapt 112%, capping a three-quarter string of accelerating growth.
CEO Lyndon Rive said in a conference call that the firm's development efforts continued to gain, with 218 megawatts worth of orders in Q2. The customer base grew from 110,000 at the end of Q1 to 141,034 — up 102% vs. a year earlier. Contract payments grew to $3.3 billion from $2.5 billion.
SolarCity sees a Q3 per-share loss of $1.10-$1.20 ex items, wider than analysts' forecasts for $1 on revenue of $81.87 billion. It expects lease and incentive revenue of $54-$63 million and gross margins of 50%-55%. Operating expenses are expected to be $115 million to $125 million.
The company reaffirmed targets to deploy 135 to 150MW in Q3, up roughly 83%, with 500 to 550MW for all of 2014 and 1,000MW in 2015.
SolarCity rose 5% late to 79.25. The stock closed up 4% to 75.63, the best close since mid-March and up 23% so far in 2014.
In June, SolarCity said that it would buy Silevo, a closely held Fremont, Calif.-based company that has developed solar-cell technology with high efficiency at a low cost.
During a Wednesday presentation at the North America PV Solar Conference in San Jose, Calif., Silevo Vice President Aaron Thurlow said the company can increasingly compete in solar modules — an industry dominated by Chinese-based companies. He cited often-lower energy costs , a highly automated plant that would keep labor costs low, and tariffs levied on Chinese-made modules.
SolarCity said it's open to more manufacturing acquisitions if it successfully integrates Silevo and brings down the cost of solar power per kilowatt-hour.
The Commerce Department in recent months has imposed hefty anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on Chinese rivals such as Trina Solar (TSL).
But those tariffs could jeopardize big projects because companies might be forced to find other suppliers and potentially pay higher fees, NPD Solarbuzz analyst Michael Barker said in a research report on Monday.
SolarCity on Monday named Brad Buss as CFO to replace Bob Kelly, who is retiring this month. Buss is the longtime CFO of Cypress Semiconductor (CY). He may help SolarCity as it "embarks on building its own solar cell/module factory," analyst Josh Baribeau at Canaccord Genuity wrote in a recent report.
SolarCity's chairman and top shareholder is Elon Musk, CEO of electric-car maker Tesla Motors (TSLA).
SunEdison (SUNE), another solar installer, stunned Wall Street early Thursday with surprise Q2 earnings. Its shares rose 12% to 21.59 in the regular session.