Updated from 2:57 p.m. EDT

FuelCell Energy ( FCEL) reported a first-quarter loss that widened from a year ago as higher volumes of sales resulted in increased operating losses.

The Danbury, Conn.-based manufacturer of fuel cells reported a fiscal first-quarter loss of $20.7 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with a loss of $19.7 million, or 29 cents a share, in the same quarter a year ago.

FuelCell Energy said revenue jumped 45% to $21.7 million from $15 million in the same period last year. On average, analysts were expecting a loss of 31 cents on revenue of $25.2 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

Cash and investments in the first quarter totaled $36.1 million compared with $15.1 million in the first quarter of 2008. FuelCell said it experienced delays in closing contracts in the first quarter that it now expects to complete in the second quarter.

Looking ahead, FuelCell expects to receive a boost courtesy of President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which the company said will direct more than $30 billion for energy initiatives and another $20 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency over the next 10 years.

"We have a strong backlog, products that will be gross margin positive by the end of the year, and we see near-term opportunities for new orders in our key markets,'' said R. Daniel Brdar, chairman and CEO. "The recently passed Recovery Act should create demand for many more clean energy projects and we have positioned the company to capitalize on these opportunities.''

Shares of FuelCell Energy rallied 15.4% to end the day at $2.55. Elsewhere in the group, Ballard Power Systems ( BLDP) rose 2.9% and Plug Power ( PLUG) added 1.3%. Meanwhile, Energy Conversion Devices ( ENER) slumped 4.9%

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