What happened

Continuing the upward momentum they experienced through 2019, shares of Plug Power (PLUG 4.05%), a leader in fuel cell solutions, popped more than 22% in the first month of 2020, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence

So what

Investors celebrated an early January press release from Plug Power announcing the receipt of a $172 million order for hydrogen fuel cell deployments through 2021. 

While Plug Power didn't disclose the source of the order, it did reveal that the customer is a Fortune 100 company. To provide some context for the considerable size of the order, consider this: Plug Power has reported $192 million on the top line over the trailing twelve months.

A rocket lifts off amid a desert landscape.

Image source: Getty Images.

But it wasn't just the company's announcement that electrified investors' optimism -- Wall Street's approval of the deal represented another factor.

Responding to the deal, Craig Irwin, an analyst at Roth Capital, said that while he believes this deal was already reflected in the company's guidance, he believes similar deals of this sort will be announced in the year ahead.

Moreover, he indicated that he's anticipating record fourth quarter results, according to Thefly.com. Perhaps the greater source of encouragement for investors, however, was Irwin's reiteration of his buy rating on the stock and $6 price target.

Now what

Although the company's announcement may have moved some investors to act, the bullish take from Roth Capital certainly motivated plenty of other investors to pick up shares. While it's worthwhile to note analysts' opinions, it's critical to recognize both the bullish and the bearish perspectives.

In the case of Plug Power, this comes in the form of a mid-December critical report from Spruce Capital, as well as the holding of a short position.

In its report, Spruce Point notes that the company is "uninvestable" due, in part, to the fact that it "has never generated a meaningful profit in its [approximate] 20 year history, and almost all of its recent sales and earnings growth has been supported by either unsustainable financing or shareholder dilution." Of course, since Spruce Point has a material interest in seeing shares fall, its bearish take should also be taken with a grain of salt.

While the debate regarding Plug Power's prospects rages on, investors who are still intrigued by the fuel cell solutions specialist will want to pay special attention when the company reports its fourth quarter earnings results.

And for those investors with a lower threshold for risk, there are plenty of other renewable energy stocks to choose from.