The daily price fluctuations of the shares in the hydrogen and fuel cell sector discussed here – primarily those from the USA and Canada – give an indication that very different interests determine events here: Thus, on many days in July 2021, there was a concurrence of price declines with almost identical percentage losses in the prices of all these shares with manageable trading volumes at the same time. In other words: The buy side held back and the forces betting on falling prices had the upper hand. However, no selling pressure could be detected, which is reflected in the amount of shares traded.
Former CEO, company founder and major shareholder (with an estimated 20 per cent of the company still owned) Trevor Milton has been charged with making “misleading, false statements directly to the investing public” via social media and television, print and podcast interviews, according to an SEC investigation. A court has frozen assets worth US$ 100 million belonging to Trevor Milton. However, the company has nothing to do with it. Construction work at the Coolidge plant is progressing according to plan. In parallel, there were various cooperation agreements with distributors as well as service points for repairs – now already 116. In addition, Nikola is expanding the sector of consumables – electricity supply contracts for battery-electric trucks as well as for the in-house production of hydrogen. The H2 infrastructure is being built in parallel.
What a roller-coaster ride: from US$ 5 at the low in 2020 to over US$ 44 at the beginning of 2021 and now at US$ 22. I did not expect such a sharp decline, but the upward exaggeration has now been followed by a downward one, which may have been helped along by the fact that around 18.4 million shares were sold short (July 2021).
The company has now been in the fuel cell business for more than 40 years, with founder Geoffrey Ballard initially relying on lithium batteries before favouring fuel cells and moving the company in that direction. Technologically, the Canadians have always been at the forefront, optimising and positioning themselves and investing massively (over US$ 1 billion) in research and development. This will now pay off step by step.
With US$ 5 billion in the bank, Plug can position itself perfectly in the hydrogen and fuel cell theme complex. This includes its own H2 production as well as the development of alliances, such as the most recent one with Renault. And it is advisable – in my opinion – to reduce the one-sided focus on the market for forklift trucks (material handling), since the major manufacturers such as Toyota and Kion are pursuing their own hydrogen strategy in the future and the devices of future generations will already have a fuel cell system included, so that the conversion or expansion of a battery is not necessary.
Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch put it clearly in an interview to members of the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (DWV) a few months ago: The technology group wants to be a global player in the hydrogen sector – starting with electrolysis and ending with the use of hydrogen in various markets. The group is now being expanded in this direction, although in the short term the negative influence of the wind turbine subsidiary Gamesa (67 percent share, approx. 11 billion euros stock market value; that of Siemens Energy is only approx. 9 billion euros for 22 billion euros turnover) had a negative impact on their own balance sheet – a loss of minus 307 million euros.
The second quarter of this year was a very good one for Tesla, with 201,250 electric cars delivered – a record. On the other hand, more and more comments are appearing that the quality of the vehicles leaves much to be desired. In addition, the market share of this frontrunner in battery-electric mobility is falling massively. In Europe, it is only about 5 per cent in the last quarter (but 13 per cent in China), because companies like VW are gaining a lot of ground and other manufacturers are constantly launching new models. Tesla will certainly find answers, such as a low-cost variant, Model 2, which according to media reports could make its début in 2022.
A market report recently published by news agency Bloomberg concludes we’re well on our way to a hydrogen revolution. I’d call it a megatrend. The report’s authors expect USD 2.5 trillion, that is, USD 2,500 billion, will pour into the hydrogen and fuel cell sector by 2050. The International Energy Agency agrees. Between 2018 and 2020, an estimated USD 1.5 billion per year went into developing the market, a figure said to climb to USD 38 billion by 2040. By 2050, investments will reportedly grow to USD 181 billion – again, per year. All these forecasts are based on targets already set by countries, global organizations and companies themselves.
It seems like Nikola Motors [Nasdaq: NKLA] was able to stop the bleeding of the past few months. The stock is rising again. Up to 30 million shares are now traded each day, a comparatively high volume for the company. The new-found optimism among investors seems to stem from reports about Nikola’s recent progress in meeting its targets. Construction of the Arizona factory is well underway. Then there are new production facilities being built in Ulm, Germany. And another boost for the stock came when competitor Daimler Truck announced its intention to have 5,000 hydrogen-fueled heavy-duty vehicles on the road over the next few years, with business partner Shell providing the fueling infrastructure. Sounds a lot like Nikola’s business model, the difference being that Nikola will produce its own hydrogen, and be able to keep the revenue, instead of outsourcing the task to another company.
Like all hydrogen and fuel cell stocks, Weichai Power’s has come under pressure since February. That doesn’t change the business’s bright prospects. Weichai [2338:HK] is turning a profit and is expanding its operations through joint ventures and strategic acquisitions. One example of this is Weichai’s recent purchase of a 45-percent ownership stake in Kion, the world’s second-largest forklift truck manufacturer. The deal, valued at EUR 3.5 billion, might even lead to the deployment of hydrogen and fuel cell systems in Kion’s next-generation forklift trucks. Like Bosch, Weichai owns part of CERUS. It also has an around 15-percent stake in Ballard Power, with which it runs a stack factory in China (a 51/49 partnership).