March 8, 2017 / 10:53 PM / 4 months ago

Sunrun 4th-qtr profit tops estimates, growth to slow in '17

2 Min Read

March 8 (Reuters) - Sunrun Inc on Wednesday reported a quarterly net profit that topped Wall Street estimates thanks in part to cost cuts and said growth in its solar systems would slow this year.

The company, which installs and finances residential solar systems, reported fourth quarter net income of $29 million, or 27 cents per share. Analysts had been expecting a profit of 5 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total system deployments rose 13 percent during the quarter, but bookings fell 13 percent, Sunrun said. The company boosted margins due to across-the-board cost cuts, Chief Executive Lynn Jurich told Reuters in an interview.

Growth in residential solar systems has slowed in the nation's top solar market, California, in recent months. Jurich, in the interview, blamed the slowdown at the end of 2016 on poor weather, shifts to new utility rate structures, and the U.S. presidential election.

System deployments are expected to rise 15 percent in both the first quarter and for the full year of 2017, Sunrun said, after climbing nearly 40 percent in 2016.

Sunrun still believes the rooftop solar market can grow about 20 percent per year long term, Jurich said.

The vast majority of Sunrun customers still choose leases and power purchase agreements over owning their panels, Jurich said, despite a broader move by the industry to offer more cash sales. Sunrun competitor Tesla Inc, which bought residential solar market leader SolarCity last year, said last month that it was moving away from leases toward cash sales.

Sunrun shares closed at $5.24 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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