The surprising takeover of the Canadian competitor Hydrogenics will also have a positive impact on Ballard Power’s stock market valuation: Both companies have been frontrunners in FC development for many years. Their activities overlap in rail vehicles and trucks. They are both absolutely tops: Hydrogenics with Alstom and Ballard with CRRC and Siemens. Ballard also has many other activities in the major markets of the future, such as the use of fuel cells in drones.
This remark (“major new customers”) stuck particularly with me, because Ballard – although already on board with many top partners and large companies in research technology – expects further major new customers, according to CEO Randy MacEwen in the telephone conference on the occasion of the figures for the fourth quarter of 2018.
The momentum for the fuel cell is constantly improving with increasing dynamics. Recent co-operations such as those between Bosch and PowerCell, but also positive statements on fuel cells from automobile manufacturers such as Audi are attracting attention. Will China be the driver again, as it was when the batteries were introduced and before that in the field of renewable energies? There, new funding guidelines are about to be introduced, which are intended to favour and strongly promote the fuel cell and the hydrogen infrastructure, while the subsidies for purely battery-operated vehicles will, depending on the radius, be abolished in full or to a large extent.
As the then market leader, Ballard Power (Nasdaq: BLDP) determined soon after taking up its fuel cell activities that there was no way it could compete in the transportation sector. The upfront investment that such a move required was just too great. A decision was made to outsource these activities to AFCC, a Daimler-Ford joint venture
Plug Power’s third-quarter results proved disappointing. The company said that the figures didn’t have any influence on its great prospects, considering a customer base which includes corporations as large as Walmart and Amazon. Their bookings are expected to top USD 600 million in the coming years. During the reporting period, Plug delivered 2,753 GenDrive systems for forklift retrofits, which generated USD 61.4 million in revenue. Current production capacity is at 15,000 systems per year, with 95 percent of them manufactured in-house. Ballard’s contribution has been reduced to a minimum.
Between Oct. 10 and 12 last year, the 16th World of Energy Solutions took place on Stuttgart’s trade show premises – which was good news, considering that Landesmesse Stuttgart and e-mobil BW had previously done little to nothing to support a 2016 implementation. It made the reduction in the number of exhibitors and attendees seem less important and easier to bear. After many long faces on the first day, the mood did improve on the second thanks to an increased interest in the event.
If one takes into account order bookings, collaborations, product developments and prospective markets, buying shares of fuel cell companies looks ever more promising. But the capitalization of the market leaders in fuel cells described in this article amount to a mere USD 750 million – a stark contrast to Tesla, the electric car pioneer, which has a market cap of USD 34 billion. These companies may very well get closer over the coming years, if Tesla gradually loses in value while fuel cell shares increase considerably in price.
The conference call of Canadian-based Ballard Power Systems about the latest figures from the last quarter of 2015 – and consequentially, for all of last year – revealed some very intriguing news, comments and plans for the future. I will refrain from discussing the figures (or losses posted) and interpreting them (how the individual business fields developed). Instead, I will focus on the excellent outlook
Ballard Power is placing a bigger focus on China, evidenced by the various agreements with Chinese companies from the field of bus manufacturing and the development of hydrogen-driven rail vehicles. According to company information, the Canadian fuel-cell manufacturer paid special attention to only collaborate with known, reputable partners, whether big or small, which enjoy their own location advantages.
Second quarter figures certainly fell short of expectations. All segments reported decreasing revenues. Still: The second half of 2015 should bring forth many positive developments in several areas, according to Ballard’s CEO, Randall MacEwen. FuelCell Energy would be “extremely busy.” This means: I assume that the takeover of Protonex will soon become reality, as over 50% of preliminary votes by Protonex’s shareholders were in favor of the deal.