The Other Side of Solar: SolarCity Files for IPO

While solar panel makers have been suffering from falling prices and over-capacity, U.S. solar installers have been taking advantage of the cheap panels and devising new financing schemes to grow their businesses. One of the largest of these installers, SolarCity Corp., has filed a Form S-1 with the SEC saying that the company wants to conduct an IPO to raise $201 million. The is a preliminary filing and does not include the number of shares to be offered or the offering price.

Underwriters for the offering are Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, BofA/ML, Needham & Co. and Roth Capital Partners. Shares will trade on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol 'SCTY'.

SolarCity, in which Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk holds a stake of about 32%, said that it would use the proceeds from the offering for "general corporate purposes, including working capital, capital expenditures and potential acquisitions of complementary businesses, technologies or other assets." The company currently has 56.56 million shares outstanding, excluding about 27 million common stock options and preferred shares.

Of the shares to be sold about 108,000 will be offered by current shareholders. An over-allotment option pool of 790,474 shares will be available from Lyndon and Peter Rive, the company's founders. The Rives are cousins of Musk.

SolarCity has done well by offering solar rooftop installation for which the homeowners then sign a power-purchase agreement for 20 years. Excess electricity is sent back to the grid. SolarCity will also sell complete systems to homeowners who wish to purchase them.

In 2011, SolarCity reported revenues of $59.55 million and a net loss of $73.7 million. In the first six months of 2012, the company reports revenues of $71.4 million and a net loss of $48.9 million. However, due to the way the company accounts for revenue, net losses to stockholders totaled $43.5 million and $23.1 million in 2011 and the first half of 2012, respectively.

A full-copy of the filing is available here.

Paul Ausick