Today: SolarCity again rises to record high stock price, but first quarter as a publicly traded company included large losses. Also: Tesla and Google (GOOG) also hit more record highs, but indexes are flat.
The Lead: SolarCity loses money, gains customers
One of Silicon Valley's hottest companies released the results of its first full quarter operating as a publicly traded company Monday, and even net losses that exceeded SolarCity's revenues did not do much to deter excited investors.
The San Mateo solar installer, which had a strong initial public offering at the end of 2012 and has established record high intraday prices eight times in the past month, reported revenues of $30 million and a net loss of $31 million, or 41 cents a share. Those numbers can mislead, however: The company builds home solar systems at little to no initial cost to the homeowner in exchange for a decades-long contract to pay for the power, so an uptake in new business can hurt profits as SolarCity pays out for the system before seeing any revenue.
SolarCity managed to greatly increase its customer base in the quarter, with Chief Financial Officer Robert Kelly saying in Monday's conference call that the number of residential contracts signed in the quarter nearly doubled from the first quarter of 2012, with total customer base -- which includes commercial work -- growing 106 percent year-over-year. The company's success showed up in its ability to exceed its own forecast of deploying 41 megawatts of solar power, with total megawatts deployed coming in at 46; One megawatt is enough to power 750 to 1,000 homes, but solar industry experts say that 1 megawatt of solar can power about 200 households, due to variances in sunshine. SolarCity now has contracts lined up to bring $1.22 billion in total revenue.
"Revenue is climbing but their cash outflows for financing new systems was up significantly more," Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov told Bloomberg News.
"Our growing economies of scale and falling cost of capital are leading us to retain greater value for our shareholders," CEO Lyndon Rive said in Monday's announcement.
Rive founded the company in 2006 with brother Peter Rive, who serves as chief operating officer and chief technology officer. The two got the company off the ground with help from their cousin, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors (TSLA) who also serves as chairman of SolarCity. Musk praised SolarCity before the earnings arrived Monday, tweeting that the "vast majority of credit for SolarCity should go to Lyndon & Peter Rive & their awesome team. I'm just a small part."
Musk showed his confidence in the company at IPO time, buying 15 million shares at the IPO price of $8 a share, adding to an already substantial position. That bet has seriously paid off, as investors clamor for SolarCity stock: Shares hit an intraday record of $39 Friday, nearly $10 more than the intraday record established in the previous session.
SolarCity shares closed at $35.88 -- a daily gain of $7, or 24.2 percent -- with volume nearly nine times the stock's average at 6.3 million shares. After a steep fall in the wake of the company's previous earnings report, which also showed wider losses than expected, shares fell far less than Monday's increase in late trading: SolarCity stock was trading in the $33-$34 range after-hours, still much higher than Friday's then-record closing price.
SV150 market report: Google and Tesla continue to set records
After indexes hit their own records last week as stocks gained healthily, Wall Street seemed to take a breather Monday as all three major U.S. indexes barely budged despite positive news on consumer spending in April. The SV150 index was no different, declining a fraction of a point as big moves from hot companies were offset by declines elsewhere.
Elon Musk's main Silicon Valley focus, Tesla, continued to establish new stock records in the wake of last week's announcement of the Palo Alto company's first profitable quarter. Shares rose 14.4 percent to close at $87.80 after rising as high as $88 Monday, giving the Palo Alto electric car maker its third consecutive session with new intraday and closing highs since its earnings report last week showed that it sold more Model S sedans than comparable models from Mercedes, BMW and Audi in the first three months of the year. The company did not slow down advances, taking its dealership fight to North Carolina.
Google also continued to find new all-time highs, hitting a record intraday price for the seventh consecutive session before slipping to a slight loss on the day. The Mountain View search giant moved as high as $882.47 before closing with a 0.3 percent decline at $877.53 while announcing an increase in storage space for users of its Web services amid reports that its social network is not performing well with brands looking to market to consumers.
Apple (AAPL) managed to gain 0.4 percent to $454.74 as it joined Google in being targeted for a new kind of tax in France, but the company's manufacturing business is sparking a battle in Asia. Yahoo (YHOO) brought in respected workers from Path and Pinterest, according to blog reports, and kept an eye on its wallet in a recent spate of acquisitions, but shares still fell 1.6 percent to $26.39. Facebook gained 0.5 percent to $26.82 despite a report that the HTC First, the flagship phone for Facebook's new Home app for Android, had flopped ; and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) declined 0.9 percent to $21.35 as it bantered with SAP about Autonomy. Netflix (NFLX) had one of the stronger days among Silicon Valley companies not tied to Elon Musk, jumping 5.4 percent to $229.38 as the first trailer for the new season of "Arrested Development" arrived.
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Down 0.22, or 0.02 percent, to 1,267.06
The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 2.21, or 0.06 percent, to 3,438.79
The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Down 26.81, or 0.18 percent, to 15,091.68
And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 0.07 to 1,633.77
Also in the news: A Silicon Valley Super Bowl, Twitter moves
A big Super Bowl pool: Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Intel are among Bay Area companies contributing a total of $30 million to the region's effort to win a Super Bowl. ... Twitter is rich, using it: An investor says that Twitter is worth $10 billion, and some of that investor's funds were used in acquiring a big-data startup. ... Amazon's new tech, own version of Bitcoin: Amazon acquired a company from Samsung for its high-tech screens, and introduced its own form of currency. ... Bloom's billion: Bloom Energy reportedly passed the $1 billion mark in total venture funding with a $130 million investment.
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.