In all, last week wasn't altogether a memorable one for the market and for its top stocks. On Friday, the S&P 500 closed up only slightly higher than where it started at market open on Monday.
That sideways motion wasn't characteristic of every stock, though. I say we end the week by looking at two issuers that bucked the trend and soared above the market.
Top fuel-cell maker Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) had a week that was almost as powerful and energizing as one of its battery products -- it rose by almost 14% over that stretch.
There's no immediate catalyst that seems to have driven this surge. Rather, it seems to be part of an overall bullish outlook on the company that has been in place since the beginning of the year -- the stock is up a hard-to-believe 145% from that time.
The world is looking for more sustainable, earth-friendly energy solutions, and Plug Power has a good niche in one of them. Sales have marched steadily upward, nearly tripling on an annual basis from 2014 to 2018 (revenue tallied nearly $175 million in the latter year).
That doesn't mean, however, that the company is profitable. In fact, it's a chronic loss-maker. Still, not long ago, management predicted Plug Power would make over $1 billion in revenue in 2024, at which point its gross margin should hit 30%. By comparison, it was 1.5% in 2018.
That's quite the growth rate for both metrics, but Plug Power does have a history of, let's say, coming up short with its projections. So while the company operates in a great segment of the renewable-energy market and has demonstrated it can grow revenue with the best of them, to me it still needs to prove it can make a buck, and do so consistently.
So I'd lay off on the stock for now until those bottom-line numbers turn black, and do so on at least a semi-regular basis.
Bank of America
What a difference a decade makes. At the end of the 2000s, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) was one of the bad boys of American finance helping to cause and exacerbate the financial crisis. It was a badly damaged operator that needed the long-suffering American taxpayer to bail it out and keep it in business.
Bank of America doesn't need the help anymore, thank you very much. Supported by an economy that's had a very long tail of growth, with profitability improved by sensible efficiency measures and smart management, the company has been a big moneymaker and a real come-from-behind story in the 2010s.
Compounding that this week was another in a lengthening string of good quarters for the company -- no wonder its stock rose by nearly 5%. Bank of America's Q3 of 2019 net profit convincingly beat analyst estimates, while revenue came in more or less as expected. These results were on the back of encouraging growth in both loans and deposits, with costs and charge-offs remaining low.
Times are good for banks just now and should remain so as long as the economy stays on the rise. But Bank of America's success is also due to effective management that's keeping costs in check and modernizing the lender's operations. Finally, even with the nice bump to the share price on the back of those results, Bank of America is still fairly inexpensive when its potential growth is taken into account. I'd say this stock is a buy.