What happened

It's a bad day, good day kind of a situation on the stock market for investors in renewable energy companies Friday, as shares of hydrogen fuel cell companies Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) and Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE) take it on the chin -- while lithium mining stock Livent (NYSE:LTHM) soars.

In 10:20 a.m. EST trading today, shares of Plug and Bloom are down 2.2% and 2.7%, respectively, but Livent stock is booming, up 11.3%. Why?

Red arrow swoops up and blue arrow swoops down.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Plug and Bloom Energy stocks appear to be moving in sympathy with fellow fuel cell pioneer Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ:BLDP), shares of which fell 3.2% on pretty "meh" earnings results released late last night. Analysts had forecast that Ballard would report losses of $0.05 per share for Q3 2020 -- and it did. However, analysts also had hoped the company's sales would hit $27.8 million this past quarter, but they missed that mark, coming in at a lowly $25.6 million instead.  

Ballard's sales increased only 4% in comparison to last year's Q3, while its per-share "net loss from continuing operations" was 14% bigger than a year ago. The fact that Plug and Bloom, like Ballard, are also losing money in this fuel cell business may account for why investors are subtracting from their share prices, too, on news that's really specific to Ballard.

Now what

But now let's take a look at Livent -- the one stock of today's three that is moving higher.

Like Ballard, Livent reported earnings last night, and like Ballard, its earnings were unimpressive -- a $0.05-per-share adjusted loss where analysts had forecast a small $0.01-per-share profit. Worse, Livent's loss when calculated according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) was $0.08 per share.

However, the company tempered the bad news with an announcement: It has extended its multiyear agreement with Tesla through 2021, agreeing to supply the electric-car company with lithium hydroxide for its car batteries for another year. Livent is also committing to send larger volumes of the battery material to Tesla through the end of this year.  

Livent is also participating in a joint venture to acquire "certain assets" of Canadian company Nemaska Lithium, which it says is "one of the most attractive lithium projects in the world and is ideally positioned to meet the growing demand for a reliable high-grade supply of lithium chemicals in North America and Europe."  

In a world hungry for lithium to power the electric-car revolution, investors seem to have decided that this news is good enough to outweigh bad earnings today -- and are bidding up Livent stock accordingly.

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.