TheStreet Reiterates Plug Power's (PLUG) Sell Rating

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Despite recent share price gains, TheStreet Ratings team reiterates Plug Power's (PLUG) "sell" rating. The fuel cell developer popped 5.4% to $2.75 on Monday, adding to an overall 76.9% gain since the first trading session of the year last Thursday.

Last week, the small-cap was soaring after exceeding expectations with its fourth-quarter orders. The company said it met its fourth-quarter 2013 order targets, totaling approximately $32 million and including contracts with Walmart (WMT), Kroger (KR) and Procter & Gamble (PG).

"As we significantly grow the business, Plug Power will increase its value-add for each customer through building our product base and establishing recurring revenue streams through hydrogen and service," said CEO Andy Marsh in a statement.

"Plug Power has seen significant traction closing out 2013, and we expect the first quarter of 2014 bookings to meet or exceed the fourth quarter of 2013," Marsh continued.

The Latham, NY-based business will report full fourth-quarter figures on Jan. 14.

TheStreet Ratings team, however, reiterates PLUG POWER INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D-. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate PLUG POWER INC (PLUG) a SELL. This is driven by a number of negative factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income and disappointing return on equity."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Electrical Equipment industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 54.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$10.33 million to -$15.90 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Electrical Equipment industry and the overall market, PLUG POWER INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • PLUG, with its decline in revenue, underperformed when compared the industry average of 10.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 3.1%. The declining revenue has not hurt the company's bottom line, with increasing earnings per share.
  • PLUG's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.85 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Regardless of the somewhat mixed results with the debt-to-equity ratio, the company's quick ratio of 1.21 is sturdy.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to -$7.01 million or 1.82% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite an increase in cash flow, PLUG POWER INC's cash flow growth rate is still lower than the industry average growth rate of 19.53%.
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