SolarCity: 2013 an ‘amazing year’



SolarCity chief executive officer Lyndon Rive has described 2013 as “an amazing year” for the company in a conference call to discuss fourth quarter operating metrics and preliminary financial results.

Rive and other SolarCity executives also discussed the company’s plans for the coming year. However the company was not able to produce GAAP financial results in time for the call and assured callers that they would be released after the close of the market next Monday, 3 March.

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Rive referred to four goals SolarCity had set itself for the year, which he said were all successfully met and exceeded. These were to install 250MW of PV, to reduce the fully loaded cost of installation, to reduce the cost of capital and to demonstrate a positive cash flow for the fourth quarter of 2013.

According to Rive, SolarCity installed a total of 278MW last year and reduced costs by close to 30%. The company reduced capital costs not only through securitisation, but also increased capital resources. Rive announced capital would further increase in the coming months with SolarCity planning to announce the company’s first Common Assets offering.

Rive also referred to the “major achievement” the company had made in freeing itself from operating constraints on residential installations. Rive claimed SolarCity had reduced waiting times significantly and customers could now get systems installed within two to three months.

Rive said SolarCity would be investing back money made from its residential showing into its sales team.

In Q4 2013, SolarCity deployed 103MW, a new quarterly record for the company. SolarCity reached a cumulative total of 567MW deployed by 31 December 2013. Estimated nominal contract payments grew to over US$2 billion, which Peter Rive, the company’s chief technology officer and chief operating officer said outperformed 2012 figures by US$900 million. The company now holds over 80,000 residential contracts. Peter Rive also claimed that from a market share of 12% in the first quarter of 2012, the company had expanded to 32% of market share at the present time. Total revenue for the fourth quarter showed an 87% increase from the equivalent period last year and stood at US$47.3 million.

The company offered guidance for the first quarter of 2014, in which it expects to deploy between 78MW and 82MW. Over the whole year between 475MW and 525MW will be deployed, SolarCity hopes. The company also expects to generate positive cash flow throughout the year, with some quarterly variability.

The company claimed it was not able to provide GAAP figures partly due to accounting for recent acquisitions, thought to include the October announcement that it would purchase mounting and grounding product company, Zep Solar, for around US$158 million. Owing to an increase in megawatts deployed, the company experienced a change in overhead allocation, which has also contributed to the delay in issued the figures.

During the conference call Peter Rive announced that he will be stepping down from his role as COO. He will be replaced by Tanguy Serra, who is currently SolarCity’s executive vice president of operations. Peter Rive will focus his efforts on his role as CTO.

Speaking of his role as CTO, Peter Rive said: “There’s so much that we have to do in this area. We’ve got to continue to delight our customers with fun and interesting software, we’ve got to make our systems scale as the business does, and improving the productivity of our employees are just a couple of areas that I’ll be focusing on.”

Concluding the summary of results, Lyndon Rive added: “Looking for 2014, the foundation is ready for scale. We’ve already seen an increase in revenue, or at least our bookings, with January being our largest residential bookings in the company’s history. We’ve reduced our installation time, and reduced our installation cost, so the infrastructure is there, and we reduced our cost of capital and increased sources of capital. So we are ready to scale this business and look forward to an exciting 2014.”

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