Why SolarCity’s Stock Jumped Today

Peter Rive, Elon Musk , Lyndon Rive
Founder & COO Peter Rive, Chairman Elon Musk , SolarCity Founder & CEO Lyndon Rive speak at the company’s IPO at the NASDAQ stock exchange on December 13, 2012 in Manhattan, New York. SolarCity is a leader of distributed clean energy and will trade under SCTY. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for SolarCity)
Photograph by Mark Von Holden — AP Images for SolarCity

The shares of the largest solar installer in the U.S., SolarCity, rose by more than 15% on Thursday on a rumor that the company might be considering going private.

SolarCity’s shares have slid from a high of close to $60 per share late last year to $22.23 on Thursday. The company has said it plans to grow more slowly in 2016, and late last year also abruptly decided to stop doing business in Nevada, after the state regulator changed an important policy for solar.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is the Chairman of SolarCity (SCTY), and his cousin Lyndon Rive is the CEO. A few weeks ago, Musk bought $10 million more shares of SolarCity, at $17.56 per share, one of the stock’s lowest trading prices in three years. SolarCity’s shares soared on that purchase, too.

For more on SolarCity, watch our video.

After that buy, Musk owned 21.85 million shares of SolarCity, which at a trading price of $22.20 are worth about $485 million.

SolarCity disappointed investors in its latest earnings call last month when the company announced it had installed fewer solar panels last quarter than it had predicted. The company also estimated that its losses in the first quarter of this year would grow, instead of shrink, despite that SolarCity is trying to control its costs this year.

At the same time, the amount of solar panels installed in the U.S. over the next few years is supposed to grow dramatically.

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