Hydrogen fuel cell stocks are closing out the week on the high note, with Bloom Energy (BE -3.87%) and Plug Power (PLUG -5.21%) rising 4.2% and 6.7%, respectively, in 1:15 p.m. EST trading, and FuelCell Energy (FCEL -3.78%) performing best of all -- rocketing 11.4% higher.
All of this sounds like good news. It probably makes renewable energy investors happy to hear it ... but if I were you, I'd be cautious about getting too excited here -- because despite today's gains, most of the news today is of the "bad news" sort.
Take Bloom Energy stock, for example. The stock's up nicely today, yes, and that may owe something to the fact that yesterday, StreetInsider.com reported that Cowen & Co. had increased its price target on the stock. But here's the thing: Cowen only raised its target to $22 a share -- and Bloom Energy stock already costs more than $27. So what initially sounds like good news (someone thinks the stock is worth more) turns out to actually be news of an entirely different sort (someone thinks Bloom stock is worth 20% less than it currently costs).
The situation with FuelCell is even more interesting. FuelCell stock is soaring today on reports that the company is starting a legislative lobbying campaign to demand the state of Connecticut reinstate awards, previously issued to FuelCell, to work on three solar development-related fuel cell projects in the state. FuelCell's CEO is quoted threatening "to reevaluate our in-state growth prospects and potentially modify our hiring plans" in Connecticut if he doesn't get its way.
Judging from the stock price gains, FuelCell investors are applauding the company's combative stance -- but from my perspective, threatening to reduce hiring and withdraw investment from the state isn't necessarily the best customer service policy FuelCell could be adopting here. Moreover, the fact that FuelCell feels it necessary to browbeat its customer into giving it awards doesn't really argue strongly in favor of the ability of its fuel cell products to stand on their own merit.
To the contrary, Connecticut's rethinking of its fuel cell plans suggests that FuelCell's customers may be beginning to reconsider the economic attractiveness of fuel cells, relative to other alternative -- or even traditional -- energy sources. Seems to me, what's happening up there in the northeast is more likely a foreshadowing of more trouble to come, both for FuelCell Energy, and perhaps for its peers Bloom and Plug as well.