SCTY Stock Faces Big Problem, Analyst Says
Considering that SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) is under siege by short sellers like Jim Chanos, many investors were surprised to see SCTY stock surge 32% since May 10.
What’s going on here? Is SolarCity benefitting from a short squeeze?
I’m afraid it’s not so simple. Axiom Capital’s Gordon Johnson II has maintained his “Sell” rating on SCTY stock, saying the optimism is completely hollow. (Source: “As Bulls In SolarCity Salivating, Gordon Johnson Firm On His Sell Rating,” Benzinga, May 24, 2016.)
He claims investors will soon realize that SolarCity’s fortunes are exactly the same as they were a month ago. The market was just distracted by SolarCity’s ongoing feud with the Nevada New Energy Task Force, says Johnson.
Several months ago, Nevada changed its rules to make rooftop solar much more expensive. In protest, SolarCity abandoned its business in the state, cutting 550 jobs. It was an attempt at retaliation, but Nevada’s New Energy Task Force had the last laugh.
SCTY stock plummeted by about 65% from the start of the year to May 10. Since then, it has recovered slightly, but only because the New Energy Task Force is meeting again.
It’s possible it will allow SolarCity’s old customers to operate under the older, more lucrative rules. It is known as a “grandfather clause.” The company’s 30,000 existing customers keep the rules they started with, but any new clients would miss out on that privilege. They would have to stomach the newer and more unfavorable economics.
Adding the “grandfather clause” would return some important business to SolarCity, but Johnson argues that it won’t materially change the business or share price over the long term.
SCTY stock will only rise if the firm’s potential skyrockets and that obviously can’t happen when Nevada’s development prospects are nil.
“While this would likely mean the bulk of SCTY’s previous, un-canceled, Nevada bookings would go through, given there is no change being proposed to Nevada’s new net metering rules, we believe this would not open up any new market opportunities for SCTY beyond its existing backlog,” Johnson stated. (Source: Ibid.)
To put it bluntly: Johnson doesn’t think it’ll make a difference. He even pointed out that Nevada represents a relatively small opportunity for SolarCity, saying that “[if] SCTY’s roof-top market share in Nevada is the same as it was in California in February 2016, the specific opportunity to SCTY would be 34.1MW, or 3.2% of SCTY’s 1,050MW 2016 installation guidance.” (Source: Ibid.)
Ultimately, his point is that you shouldn’t expect SCTY stock to keep soaring based on this one ruling. It’s not pivotal to the stock price.