Vivint Solar bullish despite losses and weaker Q4 install forecast

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Vivint Solar, the newly floated US residential PV installer, has forecast a decrease in deployments in the final quarter of the year, blaming the prospect of harsh winter weather conditions.

In a conference call to discuss Q3 results yesterday, Vivint’s CEO Greg Butterfield said he was confident the company would meet or exceed its 150MW full-year deployment guidance.

But in the final quarter of the year, Vivint, the second largest US installer after SolarCity, is expecting to install 45-47MW, down from the 49MW it managed in Q3.

Fourth-quarter revenue is also expected to be down on Q3’s US$8.3 million to between US$5.5 million and US$6.5 million.

Butterfield said “seasonality” was to blame for the fall-off in installs.

“The reason for the 45-47MW range is based off of seasonality; we believe this business will be one of comparison over the same period prior year,” highlighting that the company is anticipating growth of 167% year over year.

“So as you enter December with holidays and the weather being unknown, we thought we would give you a figure that we were confident in.”

In part to address the issue, Butterfield said Vivint was looking to expand into new state markets in the US, particularly those with better year-round weather. He outlined plans for 20 new Vivint offices due to be opened shortly across the US, without giving details on specific locations.

But the lowered forecasts appeared to surprise analysts listening in to Vivint's earning call, with one challenging the “seasonality” claim.

In response Vivint’s CFO, Dana Russell, said that the lower deployment for Q4 did not mean the company’s sales were losing momentum.

“This is install numbers, not bookings. This is really to say when we are going out there and installing system in harsh weather climates, like the New England states, there could be some disruption from an install standpoint. And that’s the measurement we’re guiding people to,” he said.

“I don’t think anyone needs to feel any trepidation as a result of us being sequentially flat with the prior quarter. We certainly continue to be very bullish on the growth in bookings and the expansion in our business next year.”

Vivint said bookings for Q3 were 62MW, up 206% year over year. Its total cumulative installations as of the end of September were 178MW.

Overall the company saw revenue in the quarter up 266% on the same period last year. However, losses also grew substantially, from US$13.5 million in Q3 2013 to US$58.4 million this year.

Vivint’s shares fell sharply yesterday on the back of its Q3 results and remain below the US$16 trading price in its recent IPO.

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