Petaluma-based Enphase Energy (Nasdaq: ENPH) on Monday reported a first-quarter net loss of $5.13 million.
That's dramatically better for the maker of microinverters for solar panels and of battery-storage systems than the $22.1 million net loss a year before but wider than $2.94 million in the fourth quarter.
Gross margin also has improved markedly, to 26.2 percent on nearly $70 million in revenue for the quarter ended March 31, up from 23.8 percent on $79.8 million in the fourth quarter and 12.9 percent on $54.75 million in the opening quarter of 2017. Revenue was up 28 percent over 12 months but down 12 percent from year-end.
"We are very pleased with the continued progress we’ve made expanding our gross margin, said Bert Garcia, chief financial officer, according to Seeking Alpha's transcript of the analyst conference call Monday. "The increases reflect pricing management, supply chain optimization and the IQ transition."
Enphase's IQ microinverter is attached to the back of individual solar panels to turn direct current into alternating current — the kind used most by households and businesses. The rest of the year, the company is banking on expanding with improved products, touting its seventh-generation microinverter, IQ 7, then a IQ 7X and IQ 8.
The Business Journal reported in March that the next generation of Enphase microinverters will manage independent electricity generation from panels using batteries or with an intertie to the power grid. Independence will be highly useful in countries where there is no grid, or it is unreliable.
Enphase continues to be impacted by shortages in components that go into its products, affecting first-quarter gross margin by about 1 percent, Garcia said on the call.
Enphase reported a quarterly operating loss of $2.5 million, while the company eked out a second consecutive quarter of proforma operating income — $900,000 — and a non-GAAP net loss of $1.3 million. The company's non-GAAP metrics exclude stock compensation, legal and other costs deemed not reflective of performance.
Enphase’s conference call with analysts highlighted expanding markets and products.
“We started the IQ 7 rollout in Q1, and did limited volumes which were in line with our plan for a well-controlled ramp," said Badri Kothandaraman, president and CEO, on the call. "In Q2, we expect to continue the ramp and introduce IQ 7 in rest of the world. Note that the rest of the world is directly transitioning from the fifth-generation product to the seventh-generation product."
Kothandaraman on Monday previewed the coming eighth generation of the microinverter.
"So basically, IQ 8 is based upon a brand new technology, called as Ensemble, which was invented here at Enphase," he said.
It would be introduced in “off-grid markets first,” Kothandaraman said.
“In the off-grid market, the obvious places for us to attack are to go and gain market share in, would be Africa and India. Africa is no-grid market, while India is weak-grid market. So those are the places where we will begin,” he said.
The ending cash balance as of March 31 was $53.3 million, up from $29.1 million at year-end, the company reported.
Also on the conference call, the company announced that Garcia will be leaving Enphase as of June 30.
Enphase's stock price increased 14 percent Tuesday to close at $4.63 a share. The stock's price has rebounded in the past month to levels not seen in 2.5 years.