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SolarCity shares plummet after fourth-quarter loss

SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) -- Shares of SolarCity Corp. fell in after-hours trading Wednesday after the solar panel maker posted a fourth-quarter loss in its first financial report as a public company.

Analysts had higher expectations for the newly public company.

The company posted a loss attributable to common stockholders of $28 million in the October-December period, compared with a profit of $3.7 million the year before. The company held an initial public stock offering in December, so it was a privately held company for the bulk of both periods.

On a per-share basis, it posted a loss of $1.10 compared with profit of 24 cents. Results were skewed by a much higher share count after the IPO: 25 million versus 15 million the year before.

Revenue grew 22 percent, to $25.2 million from $20.7 million.

Analysts polled by FactSet predicted a loss of 43 cents per share on revenue of $38.3 million.

Operating expenses grew 70 percent to $37.8 million.

SolarCity, based in San Mateo, Calif., offers solar "leases" to homeowners that allow them to install panels on their rooftops for no money down and then pay SolarCity a fixed rate every month.

Since a portion of customers' electricity is now generated on their roofs, their utility bills can be lower than they were before. The payment to SolarCity combined with the lower utility bill is often less than the customer's typical electric bill.

SolarCity's IPO priced shares at $8, down from an original range of $13 to $15 per share. The stock fell $1.77, or 9.2 percent, to $17.50 in after-hours trading Wednesday. They closed at $19.27 in the regular session.