SolarCity, the biggest U.S. solar power provider by market value, posted a profit in the fourth quarter as demand for rooftop power systems surged and a tax benefit boosted results.

Net income was $26.7 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with a loss of $33 million, or $1.30, a year earlier, San Mateo-based SolarCity said Tuesday in a statement. The company was initially expected to release the figures Feb. 24 and delayed that twice.

Excluding one-time items, the company had a loss of 46 cents a share. Analysts had expected a loss of 58 cents a share, the average of nine estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The net income came largely from an acquisition-related tax benefit, according to the statement.

U.S. homeowners installed 792 megawatts of solar power last year, up 60 percent from 2012, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. SolarCity is helping drive that growth by offering rooftop panels at little to no upfront cost. Customers sign long-term contracts to buy the power and the company is pouring much of its revenue into building more systems.

SolarCity added 103 megawatts of new residential and commercial solar systems in the quarter, compared with 48 megawatts a year earlier. The company expects to add 78 megawatts to 82 megawatts in the current quarter, and 475 megawatts to 525 megawatts for the year.



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