Yet, Plug Power's long-term outlook is positive. The global fuel cell market is on track to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years and Plug Power is making good use of this growth as its results show. The company's performance will continue improving due to its focus on product development and an increase in client orders.
Keeping a Strong Customer Base Satisfied
Plug Power has built a strong customer base. The company is now seeing recurring orders from its existing customers, which suggests that its clients are satisfied. The company has a strong customer base, ranging from automotive giants such as Mercedes-Benz (DDAIY) , BMW, and Volkswagen (VLKAY) to large retail customers like Kroger (KR) - Get Kroger Co. (KR) Report and Wal-Mart (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report .
To keep its customers satisfied, Plug Power is planning to install more "GenFuel" fuel cell charging stations. This will provide operational efficiencies and cost savings to its customers, a good reason to expect more repeat orders.
At the same time, the company is also receiving new orders. Recently, it deployed the GenFuel hydrogen system at the Memphis Airport to service airport ground support equipment. Looking ahead, management expects that this project will help it increase its presence in that market.
New Products Will Drive Revenue and Margins
Plug Power is focusing on product development in an attempt to continue to serve the fuel cell market with more efficient products.
For example, Plug Power is developing air-cooled and liquid-cooled stacks for its "GenDrive" fuel cell systems. The company intends to launch its first, Class 3 GenDrive unit with an air-cooled stack. The liquid-cooled stack is meant for Class 1 and Class 2 GenDrive systems, which are expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of next year. Looking ahead, Plug Power expects to ship around 900-to-1,000 GenDrive systems, apart from delivering better margins in the upcoming quarter.
The Prospects of the Market
As an alternative source of energy, fuel cells are gaining good traction, and they will continue getting better as research suggests. According to a Radiant Insights market research report:
Stationary fuel cell markets at $1.2 billion in 2013 are projected to increase to $14.3 billion in 2020. Growth is anticipated to be based on demand for distributed power generation that uses natural gas. Systems provide clean energy that is good for the environment. Growth is based on global demand and will shift from simple growth to rapid growth measured as a penetration analysis as markets move beyond the early adopter stage. The big box retailers including many, led by Walmart, the data centers, and companies like Verizon are early adopters.
Given the benefits of fuel cell technology and its growing adoption by big corporations, the opportunity for companies like Plug Power will continue getting better.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.