What happened

Plug Power stock was up 3.5% as of 1 p.m. EST Wednesday. The past few weeks have not been kind to investors in the hydrogen fuel cell industry.

From an intraday high of $75.49 hit Jan. 26, shares of Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) lost more than half their value through the nadir of yesterday's tech stock rout, falling nearly as far as $37 a share before recovering somewhat. Other fuel cell stocks have suffered similar declines: FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL) lost more than half its value in less than two weeks, Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE) nearly half, and Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ:BLDP) about 40%.

But in fact, Ballard, while suffering the smallest decline from top to bottom may be the stock set to lead the industry out of its rut.

Origami dollar folded into an arrow pointing up

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Ballard received twin upgrades yesterday and this morning. First, Canada's TD Securities upgraded Ballard stock to speculative buy, and then National Bank followed with an upgrade to outperform (which also means buy).

National noted that it's upgrading Ballard stock because of the $1.2 billion in cash on its balance sheet, reports TheFly.com today, which will be "important for it to remain competitive and attract future partners." TD noted that the last time it downgraded Ballard, it did so "based entirely on valuation," but Ballard's overvaluation is now significantly lessened.

Now what

What do Ballard's upgrades have to do with Plug Power?

Well, I'll tell you: If Ballard having $1.2 billion in cash is a reason to buy that stock, then what does this imply for Plug, which had $1.4 billion in cash at last report, then raised $1.8 billion in new cash from a stock offering in January and has filed plans to raise $1.5 billion more?

And if Ballard stock looks attractive at a stock price down 40% of a peak, then how much of a bigger bargain might Wall Street find in Plug Power stock, which is down more than 50%?  

These are the kinds of questions investors may be asking about Plug stock today, in response to the upgrades on Ballard. And they may also be asking, if Plug has so much more cash than Ballard, and if Plug stock has gotten cheaper than Ballard, how long can it be before the analysts start upgrading Plug stock as well?

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.