What happened

Shares of fuel cell pioneer Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) popped early Monday morning, and are up 10.2% as of 11 a.m. EST today. You can thank the friendly analysts at B. Riley/FBR for that.

This morning, FBR reiterated its buy rating on Plug Power stock (which has roughly doubled in price over the past year), and announced it is nearly doubling its target price on the shares to $6.

Blue hydrogen fuel cell

A hydrogen fuel cell. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

What has FBR so hot and bothered about Plug Power (which as you'll recall, roundly disappointed investors when it reported Q3 earnings earlier this month)?

The company has done less than $200 million in sales over the past year, but has a stated goal of reaching $1 billion in annual sales within five years, the analyst explains in a note covered today on TheFly.com. Furthermore, Plug Power thinks it can grow to this level of revenue profitably -- at least, if by "profitably," you mean adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, and not the more widely accepted GAAP version of the term.

Now what

Demand for fuel cells is "strengthening," and FBR sees this always-emerging, never-quite-emerged industry as approaching an inflection point, especially in Plug Power's core business of selling fuel-cell-powered material handlers (think forklifts).

Although no one on Wall Street probably believes the company will turn an honest-to-goodness GAAP profit this year -- or next year for that matter, or the year after that -- S&P Global Market Intelligence data shows that the consensus right now is that Plug Power just might turn profitable by 2022.

Time will tell, but for today, investors seem ready to take FBR's word on it.