SolarCity Corp., the solar power provider led by billionaire Elon Musk, raised $92 million in its initial public offering, 39 percent less than initially sought after selling the shares at a reduced price.
The San Mateo, California-based company sold 11.5 million shares, equivalent to a 16 percent stake, for $8 each, according to a statement yesterday. SolarCity lowered the price before the offering to $8 from an original range of $13 to $15 and increased the number of shares offered from 10.1 million. The IPO price gives the company a market value of about $585 million, about 4.7 times sales in the past 12 months, compared with multiples of less than 1 for publicly traded peers.
Buyers in SolarCity’s IPO commanded a discount even as the company is poised for growth after completing the most equipment installations in California, the U.S.’s biggest solar-power market. The offering contended with a market that has pummeled public solar stocks and a pending U.S. government inquiry into its accounting practices that may raise costs. The stock will start trading today, listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the symbol SCTY.
SolarCity, which booked a $95 million net loss in the 12 months through September, is one of a handful of companies that lease solar panels to customers, install them on their property, and charge them below-market rates for the electricity they generate.
U.S. spending on energy-efficiency services will increase more than four-fold between 2008 and 2020, reaching as much as $80 billion, SolarCity said in regulatory filings, citing Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
In California, the largest U.S. market, SolarCity has completed more installations than any other developer, according to the California Solar Initiative, a state-run program that tracks construction data. SolarCity says it has provided systems for more than 45,000 buildings in 14 states. A competing top developer, Sunrun Inc., says it has more than 20,000 customers 10 states.
Even as demand for alternative energy rises, solar-company stocks have been hurt by oversupply of equipment and raw materials. That has depressed the World Solar Energy Index of company shares as much as 65 percent this year, extending the drop from its 2007 peak to 96 percent.
While SolarCity currently benefits from tax credits totaling as much as 30 percent of the cost of these systems, the company’s accounting method for valuing the equipment has recently come under scrutiny.
In July, SolarCity and competitors received subpoenas from the U.S. Treasury Department for documents related to grants the company received for building solar systems, filings show. SolarCity said collecting the documents could take six months to complete and that a decision from the department’s inspector general may take as long as a year after that.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG and Bank of America Corp. led SolarCity’s IPO.