SolarCity Stock Outlook Crushes Stock

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SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ: SCTY) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 results after markets closed Tuesday afternoon. For the quarter, the solar PV installer posted an adjusted diluted net loss per share of $2.42 on revenues of $115.48 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported a net loss per share of $1.33 on revenues of $71.81 million. Fourth-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for a loss per share of $2.59 on revenues of $105.62 million.

For the full year SolarCity posted revenues of $399.62 million compared with an adjusted net loss of $3.88 per share and revenues of $255.03 million in 2014. Analysts were looking for a net loss of $8.03 per share and revenues of $389.68 million. The company did not offer an adjusted loss per share total for the fiscal year, but according to data from Yahoo! Finance, SolarCity’s full-year adjusted net loss totaled $7.96 per share.

Shares are sinking in the after-hours market as the company’s first-quarter forecast is weaker than analysts had been expecting. SolarCity is projecting operating expenses of $230 to $240 million and an adjusted loss per share of between $2.55 and $2.65. Analysts had estimated a net loss of $2.36 per share.

Another drag on the shares is the company’s estimated decline of 34% in first-quarter installations, which it describes as “a higher-than-usual seasonal slowdown.” The company’s decision to pull out of the Nevada market will cost it at least some portion of the 23 megawatts SolarCity installed in the state during the fourth quarter. The second reason for the lower forecast, according to the company, is “our renewed focus on our cash conversion cycle, particularly in longer lead-time commercial projects.”

For the fourth quarter the solar company expects revenues of $70 to $76 million in its operating lease and solar energy systems division, an increase of 48% year-over-year for the quarter. Solar energy system and component sale revenues are pegged at $30 to $32 million for the quarter. Adjusted loss per share is now estimated at between $2.60 and $2.75. The current analyst estimates call for a loss of $2.17 on revenues of $117.84 million.

Here’s a passage from the shareholder’s letter:

We closed out a strong 2015 with installations growing 73% to a record 870 MW and costs falling to new lows, though we fell short of our installation goals more than once. We are not happy with these results, and recognize our need to revamp our guidance methodology to avoid any potential shortfalls going forward. Notably, residential has consistently performed above our expectations over the last year, and we missed guidance largely on commercial installations.

SolarCity’s results were above estimates, but the company’s decision to leave the Nevada market is going to cost it in the near term.

Shares are down nearly 25% in Tuesday’s after-hours session at $19.89, well below the 52-week low of $24.07. The 52-week high is $63.79 and the consensus price target is $66.67.