What happened

The stock of Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) charged to a 9.9% gain as of 10:10 a.m. EDT Thursday. There being no other news of note today, you can probably thank British banker Barclays Capital for that.

This morning, Barclays announced it is initiating coverage of the fuel cell pioneer with an overweight rating and a $7 price target, according to TheFly.com.

One single hydrogen fuel cell in blue glass

A hydrogen fuel cell. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

In its report, Barclays describes Plug as a leading player among the few renewable energy pure plays that are both publicly traded and also viable alternatives to traditional energy sources such as oil.

The analyst says it sees a "long-term growth narrative" with "multiple points of inflection over the coming years" that could transform Plug Power into a growth stock.

Now what

Which is not to say that growth has been lacking in Plug Power stock even before Barclays' recommendation. In fact, shares have gained some 63% over the past year. And yet I have to wonder whether Plug's performance, even combined with Barclays' recommendation, is a strong enough case for expecting even more gains in the years to come.

Why not? Recall that Plug Power hasn't earned a profit, ever. To the contrary, its history is one of 23 straight years of uninterrupted losses. Granted, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, analysts forecast that Plug will in fact finally turn profitable in 2023. Then again, predictions of profitability for Plug have been made before.

They didn't pan out. Based on Plug's record, I have serious doubts that this one will, either.

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.