NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The future of the alternative energy business remains a hotly-debated topic. But with a report from research firm Markets and Markets forecasting the fuel cell market will nearly double to $5.2 billion in the next four years, from roughly $2.61 billion in 2014, one might expect great things from FuelCell Energy (FCEL), a maker and servicer of stationary fuel cell power plants.
But just being part of thriving industry does not guarantee success -- a tough lesson FuelCell investors have learned over the past couple of years. Not only is the stock down more than 20% so far in 2015, but over the past 12 months, the shares have plummeted 48%. And if you bought and held FuelCell over the past five years, you're in the hole 53%.
Sure, there's a ton of benefits to using alternative forms of energy. Not only are they more efficient, cleaner and -- in some cases -- cheaper, they're often more environmentally friendly too. But can they make investors rich? That's still up in the air.
So ahead of FuelCell Energy's second-quarter earnings results due out Monday after the close, investors should resist the temptation of its perceived cheap shares.
The challenges FuelCell continues to face -- the same ones that caused it to lose almost 60% of its value from its 52-week high of $2.84 -- don't look to be going away any time soon, as evidenced by consensus earnings estimate, which calls for a loss of 2 cents per share for fiscal 2016. Until three months ago, the consensus projected a 1 cent profit.