Why SunEdison Inc's Stock Jumped 16% Today

Is this a sign of recovery or desperate measures for SunEdison Inc?

Travis Hoium
Travis Hoium
Oct 7, 2015 at 12:15PM
Energy, Materials, and Utilities

What: Shares of renewable energy developer SunEdison Inc (NASDAQOTH:SUNEQ) jumped as much as 16% today after it presented its new strategy to investors. Shares have fallen since an early peak and trade up 9% midday.

So what: The drop in shares of SunEdison and its yieldcos TerraForm Power and TerraForm Global has made the company's plan to build 4.2-4.5 GW of projects next unfeasible. It previously planned to offer new debt and equity from the yieldcos to fund dropdown of these projects, but plunging stock prices would mean that these dropdowns wouldn't be accretive to earnings or the stock's dividend.  

What management announced today was a revised 2016 guidance of 3.3-3.7 GW, with more of those projects being funded through warehouse vehicles and third-party sales. These two alternatives don't add as much value as long-term ownership was projected to, but they'll allow the company to fund operations for the next year.

The company will also be cutting costs by laying off 15% of its workforce and forgoing some project development. The projection is that operating expenses will now be about $600 million for 2016, down from a previous estimate of about $900 million.

Now what: This highlights the tough spot SunEdison has put itself in. With $10.7 billion in debt at the end of last quarter, the company needs to grow and generate consistent margins just to pay down debt. So, cutting back on growth plans works against that plan, even if the projects it does build generate higher immediate margins.

I think the moves made today were necessary for SunEdison, but it also reinforces the fact that the company was built on a house of cards and that house is crumbling down at the moment. Until SunEdison proves that it can make a profit and lower its debt load, this isn't a bet I would make in renewable energy.