SolarCity shares soar 59% in debut after rocky IPO journey

Bay Area clean-tech company SolarCity Corp. had an uncertain path to its initial public offering, delaying and adjusting the size of its debut this week, but the stock was off to a running start Thursday in its first day of trading.

The share price has boomed as much as 58.7% in trading so far on Nasdaq, hitting $12.70 after opening at $9.25. The San Mateo-based company sold 11.5 million shares at $8 each, raising $92 million total. The price values SolarCity at $584.6 million.

SolarCity Chairman Elon Musk picked up $15 million in stock. Musk is the cousin of company founders Lyndon and Peter Rive and also the head of electric car company Tesla and rocket maker SpaceX.

Initially, the business had planned to sell 10.1 million shares in a $13-to-$15 price range. But amid reports of weak investor demand, SolarCity postponed the IPO and readjusted its ambitions.

The move, along with the stock surge Thursday, may help SolarCity weather the Wall Street skepticism toward green energy market launches. Oakland-based solar thermal start-up BrightSource Energy’s planned debut went kaput in April. Since going public in March, solar panel microinverter maker Enphase Energy has seen its stock price halved.

SolarCity was founded in 2006 and installs solar panels for residential and commercial clients. It is known for its financing options, including lease programs, which help limit upfront costs to customers.

This year, SolarCity is expected to double its revenue to a projected $124.1 million from $59.6 million last year.

But the company is also the target of a probe by the IRS and the Treasury Department into whether it exaggerated the market value of its solar energy systems to score more grant money.

Check back Thursday afternoon for an interview with SolarCity co-founder Lyndon Rive.


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