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Shares of FuelCell Energy, Ballard Power, and Plug Power All Gain on Tuesday

By Rich Smith – Updated Feb 19, 2020 at 8:35AM

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Sometimes it pays to be lucky.

What happened

Investors just can't get enough of profitless fuel-cell stocks -- at least today they couldn't.

As trading wrapped up for the day Tuesday, shares of FuelCell Energy (FCEL -5.49%) closed 18.3% higher. Its fuel cell rival Ballard Power (BLDP -2.63%) tacked on 10%, and Plug Power (PLUG -4.00%) did almost as well, rising 9.7%.

Cartoon fuel cell car exhaling H2 bubbles

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

There was no recent news that would explain why any single one of these stocks would be up today. 

Actually, the converse is true. Monday, pv magazine (admittedly, a media source with a bias toward photovoltaics, and therefore perhaps against fuel cells) ran an article rehashing Bloom Energy's (BE -7.15%) well-publicized warning from last week, cautioning investors that it will have to "restate certain prior period financial statements due to an accounting error related to its Managed Services Agreements." PV blasted Bloom for its "business math errors and lack of profits" -- now stretching to a "streak to 76 profitless quarters."  

And yet, despite this bad press, Bloom Energy is also up today: 9.4%. The most recent headline on Yahoo! Finance, discussing the stock, is "Bloom Energy Restatement Supports Class Claims of Accounting Fraud" (of which there have been many such claims filed).  

Now what

Suffice it to say that none of this makes much sense to me. Like Bloom, these other fuel cell stocks' financials show histories of losing money that stretch nearly as far back as Bloom's -- and nearly as far back as the eye can see. According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, for example, FuelCell Energy hasn't earned a profit anytime this side of the millennium.

Ballard's and Plug's records are better (by a bit) with each having earned a quarterly profit just once in the past decade. But still, with no history of profits, and no news that would suggest sustained profitability is coming, I can attach no other reason to today's surge in stock prices across the fuel cell industry besides speculation.

If you're a gambler, today may have been your lucky day. But that doesn't mean you'll get lucky again tomorrow.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

FuelCell Energy Stock Quote
FuelCell Energy
FCEL
$3.27 (-5.49%) $0.19
Plug Power Stock Quote
Plug Power
PLUG
$21.09 (-4.00%) $0.88
Ballard Power Systems Stock Quote
Ballard Power Systems
BLDP
$6.30 (-2.63%) $0.17
Bloom Energy Corp Stock Quote
Bloom Energy Corp
BE
$19.08 (-7.15%) $-1.47

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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