SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) stock gained 2.36% on Monday, and rose another 1.42% to $57.15 in pre-market trading Tuesday. The stock got a big lift after Robert W. Baird senior analyst Ben Kallo upgraded SolarCity from Neutral to an Outperform rating. The research firm reiterated its 12-month price objective of $83. Shares of the San Mateo-based solar installer have gained 20% in the last 12 months.
Baird’s timing of upgrades and downgrades is is impressive
Kallo’s price target reflects a 50.77% upside potential from its price on Monday. Baird’s timing of upgrades and downgrades has been pretty good this year. The research firm downgraded SolarCity to Neutral on August 19, when the stock was at $72. Baird had previously upgraded the stock to Outperform on April 17, when the stock stood at $56.
Recently, the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) teamed up with SolarCity to solve the growing problem of voltage regulation in Hawaii. The challenge arises mainly from the proliferation of grid-connected rooftop panels. Engineers from SolarCity and the Hawaiian Electric Company will be studying the impact of high solar penetration on power grids. Rapid variations and spikes in voltage threaten to damage the home appliances and utility hardware.
Walmart shows faith in SolarCity
Over 10% homes in Hawaii, or 48,000 Hawaii Electric customers, have rooftop solar systems. That’s much higher than the national average of 0.5% at the beginning of 2014. Last week, SolarCity bagged a major order from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) to install new solar projects at the retail giant’s facilities in 36 different states in the next four years.
Walmart and SolarCity have been working together since 2010. The solar installer has concluded more than 200 projects for Walmart. It has installed energy storage systems at 13 Walmart locations since last year, and plans to add 10 more by next year. So, the latest deal between the two companies didn’t come as a big surprise. SolarCity has captured 36% of the U.S. residential solar market. But the company now faces stiff competition from Vivint Solar Inc (NYSE:VSLR).