What happened 

Shares of Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) jumped as much as 14.9% in trading on Monday after the company announced a big contract. At 11:25 a.m. EST today, shares were still up 13.3%. 

The big news was a $172 million contract to supply its GenDrive fuel cell power; GenFuel hydrogen, storage, and dispensing infrastructure, and other support to a Fortune 100 customer. 

So what

This is one of the biggest contracts Plug Power has signed but is still about one-third the size of the deals done with Amazon.com and Walmart three years ago. 

H2 illustration made of leaves.

Image source: Getty Images.

A contract like this is a step toward Plug Power reaching its goal of having $1 billion in gross billings by 2024, but doesn't say anything about its profitability. You can see in the chart below that deals with Amazon and Walmart have helped revenue, but Plug Power continues to lose nearly $100 million per year. If that doesn't turn around, the contract size doesn't matter. 

PLUG Revenue (TTM) Chart

PLUG Revenue (TTM) data by YCharts. TTM = trailing 12 months.

Now what

Until Plug Power proves it can make money selling fuel cells, fuel, and services, I will take a skeptical view of the stock. Management has used share sales, which dilute shareholders, to patch over financial losses year after year. Scale hasn't seemed to help in the past, so I doubt that more sales will lead to better financial results.  

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.