May 7, 2014 / 10:00 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-SolarCity raises forecast as demand for solar installations rise

* Sees 2014 installations of 500 MW-550 MW

* Expects to install 900 MW-1,000 MW in 2015

* Shares up 9 pct (Adds details, analyst comment, share movement)

By Kanika Sikka

May 7 (Reuters) - SolarCity Corp, the largest residential solar panel installer in the United States, raised its full-year forecast for installations after reporting a smaller first-quarter loss.

SolarCity’s shares rose as much as 9 percent after the bell.

The company said on Wednesday it expects to deploy 500-550 megawatt (MW) this year, up from its previous forecast of 475-525 MW.

SolarCity, which is backed by Tesla Motors Inc founder Elon Musk, has taken off as it allows homeowners to spread payment for solar panels over 20 years.

The company, however, is expected face competition as First Solar and SunPower Corp enter the solar installation market.

But Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said SolarCity was well positioned in the residential solar installation market.

“As it stands, SolarCity has built by far the largest infrastructure for residential solar installation, so its market positioning is strong,” he said.

SolarCity also said it expects to nearly double its installations in 2015 to 900 MW-1,000 MW.

The company said it expects current-quarter solar panel deployments to increase by more than a third to 110 MW. It had deployed 82 MW in the first quarter.

SolarCity had $2.5 billion of contracted payments remaining at the end of the quarter ended March 31, up 21 percent from the preceding quarter.

Since SolarCity relies heavily on long-term contracts, analysts say the value of these contracts is a better metric to judge the company rather than its quarterly results.

The company’s net loss attributable to stockholders narrowed to $24.1 million, or 26 cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $40.9 million, or 54 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue more than doubled to $63.5 million.

The company’s shares were trading up more than 7 percent at $51.05 after the bell. They have risen six-fold since debuting on the Nasdaq in December 2012. (Reporting By Kanika Sikka and Anannya Pramanick in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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