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Why Plug Power Stock Continues to Tumble Today

By Rich Smith - Mar 18, 2021 at 12:44PM

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Wall Street -- and investors -- aren't 100% sure what to make of the restatement.

What happened

Plug Power (PLUG 11.72%) shareholders cannot catch a break.

In late February, the fuel cell company admitted that despite its reporting quarter after quarter of increases in "gross billings," its revenues actually went negative last quarter. Fast-forward one week, and the company announced it would delay filing its 10-K annual report with the SEC because it needed "additional time to complete the procedures relating to its year-end reporting process." Two weeks later, the company announced that it would have to restate about four years' worth of financial statements to correct "errors in accounting."

In total, Plug Power stock has lost 25% of its market capitalization since the bad news started rolling in, including a 3.9% drop through 12:15 p.m. EDT today.

Glowing red stock chart arrow trending down

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Analysts are split on how investors should react to Plug's big drop. Yesterday, investment bank Truist withdrew its "buy" rating on Plug stock, and Craig-Hallum cut its price target nearly in half. But Cowen, B. Riley, and Roth Capital all called the sell-off a "buying opportunity" (reports, with B. Riley calling the restatement "accounting noise" and Cowen insisting it's not a "nefarious event."

Today, a fourth analyst -- Canaccord Genuity this time -- made the buying-opportunity argument, insisting that Plug seems to be just switching around classifications of assets on its balance sheet and that the earnings restatement won't really affect the company's business or prospects.

Now what

And me? I'm not sure. I mean, there's never such a thing as just one cockroach, right? Once investors get wind of one financial shenanigan at a company, it's often the case that additional shenanigans come to light as investigators dig deeper.

That's why my personal forecast for Plug Power right now is an endless slew of shareholder derivative class action lawsuits and months of uncertainty while we wait to find out what Plug's numbers for the last four years really were. While there's still every possibility that Plug will make it out of this crisis intact, it's going to be a long and drawn-out process.  

The big risk: Investors will decide Plug has become just "too hard," lose interest, and move on in search of more clear-cut opportunities.

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