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Should You Buy Into the Rise of the Fuel Cell Makers?

Stocks in this article: BLDP FCEL PLUG WMT TSLA TM HMC

In the last year, the company's sale of telecom backup power rose 74% to $20.5 million, which was driven by high demand from Japan, Southeast Asia, South Africa and the Caribbean. In the current year, Ballard Power is eyeing deeper penetration, with a focus on growing in its new markets, such as Australia, Myanmar and the U.S.

The company also reported 24% growth in its higher margin engineering services division. The segment remains the biggest contributor to Ballard Power's revenue and income. The company is expecting 30% growth from this segment in the current year, which will be driven by its partnership with Volkswagen (VLKPY) as well as design and commissioning of fuel cell infrastructure for other customers.

Ballard Power's revenue from development stage markets rose 50% from 2012 to $13.2 million in 2013, due to the bus licensing agreement with China's Azure Hydrogen. This deal could continue to power the company's profit and margins in the coming quarters.

The unit's growth, coupled with higher licensing revenue, has driven Ballard Power's margin expansion. Another year of solid growth could result in further margin expansion. The business has forecast break-even EBITDA for 2014, which could be followed by positive cash flows.

Ballard Power's material handling sales are up just 5% this year, but they gained momentum in the last quarter of the fiscal year. This was due to higher orders from Ballard's partner Plug Power, the market leader in the fuel cells materials handling systems in North America. This unit could witness significant growth in 2014 with considerable increase in shipments. Moreover, the recent deal between Wal-Mart and Plug Power could also give a boost to Ballard's revenues.

In the long term, Ballard Power could once again go on to become a mid-cap stock but that requires significant growth of the commercial fuel cells market. However, some of the leading automakers -- such as Toyota (TM), which I have also discussed in my previous articleHyundai; and Honda (HMC) -- are gearing up to launch fuel cell cars in the coming years. Moreover, Tesla's new Gigafactory and its expansion plans in Europe could turn into big opportunities for the fuel cell makers. This sets up a positive tone for Ballard Power's long term future.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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