Do fuel cell stocks have much energy left?

Chris Lau, Kapitall: Will the growth of alternative energy investments spill over to fuel cell stocks?

Fuel cell stocks tear upwards whenever a deal is announced or an acquisition takes place. Others in this sector are less fortunate. Wild volatility greets companies like Ballard Power Systems (BLDP). As long as the positive momentum for the sector continues, it’s anyone’s guess as to when valuations lead these stocks downward.

Plug Power makes acquisition

Plug Power (PLUG) acquired ReliOn, paying for the acquisition entirely in stocks. Plug will pay around $4 million for the hydrogen fuel cell stack technology company. Plug is interested in ReliOn because the latter’s solutions are sold to AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), and Sprint (S).

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The deal diversifies Plug’s fuel cell solutions into distributive backup power. Investors clearly liked the deal, because shares traded well above the $6 lows reached in March, 2014. However, there is still upside, as the stock is also trading below its 52-week high.

Plug shares are valued at a price-to-sales ratio (PE) of around 42 and a price-to-book ration (PB) of over 200. Conversely, Ballard Power is valued at a PE of 7.81 and a PB of 7.46.


There is a growth market for alternative energy. If applying hydrogen Fuel Cell solutions in delivery trucks costs less than say, diesel fueled solutions, and then demand for fuel cells will increase. For now, projects implementing this technology will need to weigh the risks associated with trucks having a lower range of travel. If the scalability of fuel cells is there, then the lofty valuation in companies like Plug Power would be justified. Bears appear to disagree: short float for these companies is above 10 percent.

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