Monday morning dawned bright for investors in hydrogen fuel cell stocks Plug Power (PLUG -2.85%) and Bloom Energy (BE -3.67%) -- and for fans of the hydrogen economy in general. As of 12:05 p.m. EDT Monday, Plug stock is up a strong 10.8% and Bloom Energy stock is doing even better -- up 11.6%.
But not FuelCell Energy (FCEL -3.77%). Defying the bullish trend, FuelCell Energy stock is down 11.9% today. Why is that?
Let's first address the bull in the room: why FuelCell's peer fuel cell stocks are doing so well today. This morning, Plug Power announced that it is collaborating with "other transportation, gas and utility industry executives" to promote a new study from consulting firm McKinsey called the Road Map to a US Hydrogen Economy.
Plug notes that it is "the country's largest user of liquid hydrogen today" and believes that "a shift to broader use of hydrogen brings tremendous value," to green energy advocates and folks who fear the use of petrochemicals are exacerbating global warming. It also brings value to Plug Power itself. In the upcoming report, Plug says McKinsey will explain how "hydrogen demand in the US could reach 17 million metric tons by 2030 and 63 million metric tons by 2050, roughly equivalent to 14 percent of energy demand" -- and Plug is situated at the beating heart of this hydrogen economy as a premier producer of hydrogen for energy use.
These are big numbers Plug is celebrating -- probably even bigger than Plug itself can supply all on its lonesome. In a statement about the study, CEO Andy Marsh spoke only of servicing "more than 1,000 tons per day by 2030" of hydrogen supply -- about 365,000 tons per year, far short of the 17 million tons envisioned, much less the 63 million. This explains why it's not just Plug stock going up today, but also Bloom Energy, another putative hydrogen supplier.
Now why is FuelCell Energy stock going down? A couple of reasons suggest themselves. First, unlike Plug and Bloom, FuelCell Energy hasn't (yet) announced it's diving into hydrogen production as a key business focus. But second, also unlike Plug and Bloom, FuelCell just announced that to get the cash to keep itself solvent, it will have to create and sell some 50 million new shares of stock. I suspect it's this action, and the stock dilution it promises, that is making investors shy away from FuelCell stock today.
That being said, FuelCell's fall may also tell a cautionary tale for investors in Bloom Energy and Plug Power. Currently, none of these three stocks is profitable, nor are they generating the positive free cash flow they need to remain viable businesses. Until they are, the fates of Plug Power stock and Bloom Energy stock could be tied more closely to FuelCell Energy stock than they may look today.