What happened

When fuel-cell company Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE) reported its Q3 earnings last week, I declared them not "all that great." Of course, that was before I saw the 10-Q statement -- and saw the stock close 12% higher today.

Now, I'm prepared to revise that statement slightly. Bloom's report wasn't great...it was fantastic!

Little girl holding a fan of $100 bills

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Even with sales rising 23% year over year, and the GAAP loss shrinking, Bloom Energy ended up reporting a $0.50 per share GAAP loss last week -- not exactly stellar news. Combined with some vague guidance on the number of systems it expects to sell next year, and the average price it expects to get for them, that was about all Bloom had to say about its quarter at the time -- less than 500 words' worth of rather ho-hum prose, without much in the way of financial statements to flesh out the news.

But what a change a week makes.

Today, Bloom finally released its full financials in the form of a 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and in it, the company had some exciting news: For the second quarter in a row, Bloom Energy has produced positive free cash flow (FCF) from its business -- $19.4 million this time -- keeping the company firmly in the black this year, in terms of cash profits.  

Now what

So, yes, from one perspective, there's reason to feel discouraged about Bloom Energy. The company hasn't reported a single GAAP-profitable quarter...ever. And its trailing-12-month GAAP loss exceeds $282 million. On the other hand, free cash flow over the past 12 months is a respectable $60.6 million. And this year's free cash flow (to date) is nearly twice that -- $115.7 million -- and on track to exceed $150 million if it keeps growing at its present rate.

With a market capitalization just four times FCF, and an enterprise value just 7.5 times the run-rate on FCF, I think investors just might be right to be buying Bloom Energy stock today.

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.