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).
That was fast. First, Plug Power [Nasdaq: PLUG] raises around USD 840 million issuing new shares at USD 22.25 apiece. A felt five minutes later, the company is offered a USD 1 billion bought deal, perfectly exploiting the stock surge to collect massive capital. Plug must now have over USD 1.7 billion in the bank, thanks to the company’s growth prospects targeting hydrogen.
The hammer fell on Nov. 30, 2020. General Motors will not buy into Nikola. But according to the new memorandum of understanding, GM still wants to work with Nikola on battery and fuel cell technology. Consequently, the Badger pickup truck will not emerge from GM’s assembly line as planned. And the originally projected USD 2 billion investment is also rendered moot. As a result, Nikola stock plummeted.
It may seem contradictory, since joining an important market index is a very good thing, requiring funds to adjust their holdings. In Tesla’s case, I see at least USD 8 billion would have to be invested through them. I tend to doubt this will automatically lead to a massive increase in valuation. Index funds may already have positions based on a variety of investment vehicles, such as options that can be turned into shares without any relevant influence on the price. Perhaps out of pure contrariness, the stock could turn sour when things are looking their best because analysts, investors and the media see only rising prices, completely ignoring the risks.
FuelCell Energy’s quarterly results weren’t the reason for the year-end price surge from around USD 2 to over USD 11. At times, more than 200 million trades were concluded in one day, which exceeds the total shares outstanding. I believe we’re witnessing the impact of high-frequency or day trades or swarm-like investor activity via, e.g., Robinhood. Right before the rally, Heights Capital Management reported the purchase of 19 million FuelCell shares, giving the private equity firm a 6.7 percent stake in the fuel cell business.
As third-quarter results faded in the rear-view mirror, Bloom Energy stock rebounded with a vengeance following a temporary slump. Natural disasters, including storms and floods, prevented the completion of 41 projects, pushing revenue below the anticipated USD 225 million to USD 200 million, And yet, the company’s USD 12 million in the red means Bloom [NYSE: BE] performed much better than expected. The net loss was “only” USD 0.09 per share instead of USD 0.16 and including non-recurring revenues, that loss shrank to as little as USD 0.04 a share.
In what is known as a bought deal, an underwriter syndicate co-led by investment bank Raymond James has offered Ballard Power [Nasdaq: BLDP] fresh capital for shares. The offer was so popular, the initial USD 250 million target was quickly raised to USD 402.5 million: In late November 2020, the companies agreed on USD 350 million in stock, with an option on another USD 52.5 million, all selling at USD 19.25 per share. Ballard has since exhausted those resources, though more could be on the way soon.