What happened

Shares of alternative energy providers -- fuel cell stocks including Plug Power (PLUG), FuelCell Energy (FCEL 7.24%), and Bloom Energy (BE 1.47%) -- exploded higher to start out the week on Monday. As of 11:45 a.m. EDT, Plug stock is up 14.7%, its much smaller rival FuelCell is up 11.4%, and Bloom Energy has gained 6.7%.

All three stocks may have Plug to thank for their success today.

Blocks that spell out "h2 fuel"

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

On an otherwise slow news day for fuel cell stocks, Plug Power shook up the market with an announcement that U.K.-based supermarket chain Asda will be buying a "turnkey solution" for its warehouse forklift fleet, including "fuel cells, hydrogen fueling equipment, hydrogen and service" from Plug. The company notes that Asda is a new customer for Plug, and that this deal "represents the first deployment at scale of hydrogen fuel cell technology for material handling within the United Kingdom."

Investors appear to be hoping that "first" implies "first of many," and that if the popularity of hydrogen fuel cell technology takes off in the U.K., this may work to the benefit of Plug's competitors -- FuelCell and Bloom -- as well. Reinforcing that belief, Asda reminded that its parent company Walmart "has chosen to build the largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell-powered electric vehicles in the world" -- the implication being that where Walmart leads, others may follow.  

Now what

Asda is the U.K.'s third-largest supermarket chain, so today's announcement is kind of a big deal for Plug. That said, the company did not state quite how big of a deal it is, in terms of either revenue or profitability.

We'll get our next glance at those kinds of numbers when Plug reports its second-quarter 2020 financial results, due out before the market opens on Thursday, Aug. 6.

For the record, analysts currently forecast that Plug will report a $0.10 per share loss (25% worse than last year) on sales of $59.5 million -- up 4% year over year.