The smart grid and demand response industries are changing fast, and leading companies in the space are striving to get in front of that change. Last week’s earnings reports from Silver Spring Networks, Itron and EnerNOC provided investors some insights into how they’re going about it.
Silver Spring Networks
Silver Spring on Wednesday reported its strongest quarter in years, with non-GAAP revenues of $69.1 million, up 9 percent from the same quarter last year, and non-GAAP net income of $1.1 million, or 2 cents per share, compared to a loss of $9.9 million and 20 cents per share in the same quarter last year.
The Redwood City, Calif.-based company also had its strongest deployment record in the past two years, with about 700,000 new meters and other networked devices brought on-line, CEO Scott Lang said in a Wednesday conference call. Silver Spring now has 21.5 million devices connected, and plans to bring that to nearly 23 million by year’s end, he said.
Notable contract wins included a joint electric-water metering deployment for New Braunfels Utilities in Texas, which is using Silver Spring’s platform designed for municipal and cooperative utilities, and a new project with AusNet Services to deploy its IPv6 network for a government-mandated AMI rollout -- one of several Australian utilities Silver Spring is working with.
Post-quarter wins include an expansion with existing Brazilian customer CPFL Energia, which is using its existing Silver Spring network canopy to connect distribution automation systems in six cities, Lang said. That’s part of an international book of business that’s seen triple-digit growth this year compared to last, representing more than 20 percent of its business in the quarter and about half of year-to-date bookings, he said.
Silver Spring is earning an average $2.26 per endpoint in recurring non-GAAP revenue as of this quarter, compared to $2.18 as of a year ago, CFO Jim Burns said. As for the company’s Silverlink distributed intelligence platform, Lang didn’t cite any specific deployments, but noted that the initiative has brought in partners including Space-Time Insight and Retroficiency, and that “international interest has been strong.”
The country’s biggest smart meter vendor has had a harder 2015 so far, according to its earnings report last week. The Liberty Lake, Wash.-based company reported revenue of $470 million, down from $489 million in the previous year, but better than Wall Street expectations of $450 million, and up 6 percent on a constant currency basis, CEO Philip Mezey noted in a Wednesday conference call.
But Itron’s earnings were hit by ongoing restructuring costs, as well as a $23.6 million warranty charge for malfunctioning water meters and “unfavorable tax adjustments” derived by slower-than-expected business in Europe, which led to a quarterly loss of $14.2 million, compared to a $19.3 million profit in the same quarter last year.
Mezey noted that these one-time charges masked Itron’s continuing growth in its electricity sector, the focus of a business overhaul begun early last year to cut older equipment lines and bring its newest technology to the fore. Ongoing electric metering contracts kept Itron’s numbers up for this quarter, with FirstEnergy, Consumers Energy, Duquesne Light and Duke Energy all expected to increase shipments in the second half of the year. Itron is bumping its 2015 revenue forecast up slightly to $1.85 billion to $1.95 billion, based in part on this growth.
Europe’s smart meter rollouts are slower going, but Itron does have significant contracts in France to look forward to, Mezey noted. It’s also working with Hong Kong’s China Light & Power, and is looking at opportunities in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, he said.
Itron also landed a big new contract with Eletrobras in Brazil, where it and Cisco will support wireless mesh and powerline carrier communications for six distribution subsidiaries in partnership with Telefonica and Siemens. A smaller contract with the Tonga Islands in the South Pacific will be Itron’s alone, along with network management services. Both of these latter projects are using Itron’s Riva platform, the IPv6-capable, Linux-programmable platform developed with partner Cisco to allow meters and other field devices to perform more complex computing tasks.
Back in February, EnerNOC reported record revenues for 2014, but warned that 2015’s revenue projections were going to come up short, largely due to cyclical downturns in key demand-response markets like that of mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM. Beyond these cyclical demand response issues, the Boston-based company is facing a deeper threat, in the form of a pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling on a federal court decision that, if upheld, could force major changes in the decades-old structures in place for the U.S. demand response industry.
EnerNOC wants to grow its Energy Intelligence Software (EIS) lines of business with utility and enterprise customers to the point where it overtakes its demand response revenues within the next few years. Thursday’s second-quarter earnings report cited some evidence that it’s executing on this goal.
EnerNOC reported revenues of $72.5 million and a loss of $18.8 million or 66 cents per share, compared to $44 million in revenues and a loss of $27.4 million loss, or 96 cents per share in in the same quarter last year. While its full-year outlook remained unchanged, second-quarter results did beat Wall Street estimates.
On the EIS front, EnerNOC grew its annual recurring revenue for its enterprise software business to $58 million, up $3 million from the previous quarter. While it dropped about 100 enterprise customers of acquisition World Energy this year, it added about 7,000 more sites using its software suite. That only adds up to an average of 5 percent of those customers’ total sites, meaning that EnerNOC has a lot of room to grow its share of enterprise business, CEO Tim Healy noted.
Outside the U.S., EnerNOC grew its international revenues to $21 million, up 55 percent from the same quarter last year, boosted by expanded projects in Japan and South Korea.
As for EnerNOC’s most recent partnerships on the solar and energy storage fronts, Healy said its deal to supply EIS software to SunPower’s commercial customers is expected to bring in “about $1 million of revenue from this contract” in 2015, “and then roughly $8 million a year at a minimum for the next couple of years.”
EnerNOC had less to report on its new energy storage partnership with Tesla. “The Tesla pilot is underway with a handful of installations completed in California, and we are excited to begin using energy storage for both demand response and demand management at the sites to prove out what we believe will eventually be a very large market,” Healy said.