Alternative energy stocks got a boost last week when Congress approved a second stimulus bill to boost the economy that contained large sums of money that would be invested in renewable energy. That rally was soon imperiled, however, when President Donald Trump stepped in to demand that the stimulus bill include $2,000 checks for every American -- and threatened to veto the bill.
Now, things look to be back on track.
On Sunday, the president signed the $900 billion pandemic relief bill into law. At least some of the alternative energy stocks likely to benefit from the $35 billion earmarked in that bill for renewable energy projects are booming today, with shares of lithium miner Lithium Americas (NYSE:LAC) rising 8.7% as of 12:05 p.m. EST, and uranium miner Uranium Energy (NYSEMKT:UEC) up 10.4%. At the same time, however, fuel cell manufacturer Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE) is down 5.5%.
And I'll be honest with you: That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
All three of these companies are expected to benefit from the renewable energy aspects of the stimulus bill. According to a Washington Post analysis of the 5,593-page bill, Congress has authorized spending $11 billion on nuclear energy, modernizing nuclear power plants, for example, and also researching new types of reactors -- clearly something that will support demand for the fuel that Uranium Energy mines.
A total of $4 billion will be poured into research and development into solar, wind, and similar renewable energy technologies, with $2.6 billion more spent on researching "sustainable transportation." This is clearly good news for miners of lithium, used to make rechargeable batteries for electric cars, such as Lithium Americas. But it should also be good news for Bloom Energy, whose admittedly stationary fuel cell "boxes" were invented with assistance from federal research and development spending in the first place, and could benefit from more.
In fact, an additional $500 million earmarked for research into ways to reduce harmful industrial emissions seems tailor-made for fuel cell companies like Bloom, whose primary byproduct of electricity production is water.
The three alternative energy stocks are similar in other ways, as well -- notably, in their lack of profits. Neither Bloom Energy nor Uranium Energy has earned any profit at all in the last decade. According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, Lithium Americas' only profits have been from the occasional sales of assets. On the one hand, this is clearly a red mark against all three stocks, but it could turn out to be a green mark if federal subsidies make the companies suddenly profitable in 2021. (At least, that seems to be what investors have been betting on lately.)
And yet, while Lithium Americas and Uranium Energy stocks are up today, Bloom Energy stock is down. Is there any bad news that explains why it would be underperforming other stocks that are just as unprofitable as it is, but also just as likely to benefit from federal renewable energy investments? Not that I can see.
But on the plus side, that means there's no reason Bloom Energy can't go right back up in the absence of bad news tomorrow, either.