Following a short-term dip, the stock of Canadian fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Power (Nasdaq: BLDP) went on to rebound in a big way, shooting up daily. A good sign. While the company didn’t ink any major deals, it signed several framework agreements and received multiple letters of intent. It also tried to branch out, getting in on projects such as H2Ports. As a global leader, Ballard will remain in the spotlight, in multiple markets, thanks to its highly advanced technology.
For me, the new year started off with a bang: While hydrogen and fuel cells had rarely been discussed at the many energy conferences held in past years, power-to-gas, electrolyzers and fuel cells are quickly seizing the spotlight these days. It’s very good news for technology suppliers listed on the stock exchange, especially for those mentioned below. The market has finally built enough momentum, and the public is taking note. Also, Tesla’s position as the leader of the field took a bit of a hit in 2018: Competition grew fiercer, with more and more businesses offering electric or hybrid models.
The bloodletting among the executive ranks at Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA) continues. The carmaker’s general counsel stepped down only two months after taking the position and its chief financial officer, who had already been in this role once before, years ago, resigned as well, this time after two years. This doesn’t bode well. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, at least managed to bring his billionaire friend and Oracle founder Larry Ellison on board. Ellison has bought Tesla shares worth over USD 1 billion, making him the automaker’s second-largest private shareholder, after Musk.
On February 22, Plug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG) celebrated the Grand Opening of a new factory in Rochester in the United States. Reportedly, the site will create more than 180 jobs and produce as many as 400,000 membrane electrode assemblies, compared to a company-wide production of 10,000 in 2018. The big increase in capacity is thought to be achieved by using a technology that the manufacturer obtained by buying American Fuel Cell. Additionally, tests of courier vans have created high expectations.
After a sharp decline, with high volumes being traded at prices as low as USD 0.40, the tide suddenly turned for FuelCell Energy (Nasdaq: FCEL). While trade volume increased even more, to 17.5 million shares, the price shot to USD 0.90 within a few days. Then, the tide turned again, and the shares fell to a new low. It’s almost as if the stock is part of a high-stakes gambling game. Who is in the know?
Bloom Energy (Nasdaq: BE), a manufacturer of fuel cell systems, is a new one for me to discuss on these pages. The company went public in July 2018, and after issuing shares at a price of USD 25 each, it went on to reach a market cap of above USD 3 billion, though it is valued at less than half of its IPO price today. It posted revenues of USD 742 million for 2018 and expects a steady 20 percent growth per year in the near-term future.
Ballard (Nasdaq: BLDP) had its very own October surprise, which caused the stock to take a nosedive. Though worse than expected, the USD 0.03 net loss per share and revenues of as little as USD 21.6 million weren’t to blame for the slump. Neither was the company’s low cash level of USD 23.2 million, reduced by inventory and AFCC asset purchases, nor the 2018 revenue target
Power purchase agreements are a central part of FuelCell Energy’s new corporate strategy. These agreements allow for long-term community purchases of electricity and energy. Not too long ago, the company concluded several contracts to that effect. One example is a 14.8-megawatt site in Derby, Connecticut. Meanwhile, it has been adding fuel cell power plants to its inventory as well, as it did last November
Hydrogenics (Nasdaq: HYGS) seems to be facing similar headwinds in China, mostly with regard to funding, bid requests and grant approval. It said the country offered excellent prospects; everything was just moving along a bit more slowly than expected. At the very least, backlog at Hydrogenics added up to USD 132 million, more than half of which originates with Alstom contracts for fuel cell trains. Thirty trains have already been ordered and more are said to follow this year.
Considering the many possible uses of fuel cells, the market for them won’t go up in a straight line. Nor will the large-scale production of cheap renewable hydrogen be a goal that can be accomplished overnight. Still, new hydrogen fueling stations will be added at a steady pace, and it will only be a matter of time until mass-produced fuel cell cars are available for sale.