What happened

Shares of green energy play Clean Energy Fuels (NASDAQ:CLNE) surged as much as 10% in early Monday trading before retracing a bit and closing the day up 7.8%.

There's no "news," exactly, to explain the stock's sharp spike -- but there soon might be.

Big pile of paperwork

Clean Energy reports its Q4 earnings Tuesday evening. Will they contain any mention of profits? Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Clean Energy Fuels, which supplies fuel for vehicles running on compressed natural gas and operates refueling stations for the same, is expected to report its fiscal fourth-quarter 2018 earnings on Tuesday after the close of trading.

Analysts have set kind of a low bar for earnings, predicting Clean Energy will report a loss of $0.05 per share on $77.5 million in sales -- 13% less sales than Clean Energy made one year ago. Investors bidding up Clean Energy stock today are probably betting that the company will be able to clear that bar, or at the very least offer up sufficiently optimistic guidance to convince investors to forgive any "earnings miss."

With Clean Energy having recently announced a series of new contracts calling for it to supply more than 6 million gallon-equivalents of natural gas to customers, annually, but not having yet announced the value of these contracts, there's at least a chance that will happen.

Check out the latest earnings call transcript for Clean Energy Fuels.

Now what

Whether or not Clean Energy exceeds expectations tomorrow, the fact remains that this company hasn't reported a full-year profit in nearly 15 years (according to S&P Global Market Intelligence figures, 2005 was the last one). And analysts don't expect Clean Energy to report its next profit before 2021.

Given this, I don't think investors need to be in any rush to buy Clean Energy Fuels stock ahead of earnings. If the company ever does become profitable again, there should be plenty of opportunity to buy it between now and then.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.