What happened

Shares of energy companies not involved in the burning of dinosaur juice -- renewable energy companies such as Plug Power (PLUG -5.17%) and Bloom Energy (BE -1.23%), along with uranium miner Energy Fuels (UUUU -0.17%) -- are easily outpacing wider stock market gains this morning. At 10:45 a.m. EDT, Plug stock is up a healthy 5%, and Bloom Energy is rising 5.9%, while Energy Fuels is waltzing past both of those -- up 7.3%.

But why is that?

Three colorful arrows racing straight up on a black background.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Differing factors appear to be behind the stocks' rise. In the case of the hydrogen fuel stocks, investors may be responding to a report released by Research and Markets earlier this week. The report, which covers 66 companies either specializing in fuel cells or bearing at least a tangential relation to the technology, posits that the fuel cell sector "is projected to reach" $14.6 billion in global sales by 2027. Research and Markets argues this growth will be driven both by governments' desire to build a "clean and sustainable world" and economic stimulus packages designed to jolt economies out of the recession created by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Granted, the report implicitly warns that there will be at least 66 separate companies jostling to get a piece of this market. But the fact that Plug Power and Bloom Energy, for example, did less than $750 million in combined revenue last year suggests there's still plenty of opportunity for individual winners to grow.

Meanwhile, Energy Fuels stock is rising today on an even clearer catalyst: an upgrade from Noble Capital. As TheFly.com reports this morning, the investment banker assigned Energy Fuels an outperform rating and a $9 price target, which is more than 50% higher than where it closed last night.

Noble believes that rising uranium prices will do good things for Energy Fuels' income statement. The analyst also applauds what it calls the company's "rare earth element strategy" of diversifying into rare earths production.  

Now what

This bears watching. According to historical records provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, Energy Fuels has only earned an actual profit, under generally acceptable accounting principles (GAAP), from its core uranium mining business once in the past quarter century -- and that profit, which occurred in 2012, arose solely from a one-time accounting change for goodwill.

But as management explained in its last earnings report, "Energy Fuels is making major strides toward restoring critical U.S. rare earth supply chains," and intends to use "shipments of rare-earth-rich natural monazite sands from Chemours' Georgia heavy mineral sand operations ... to ramp-up production of an intermediate rare earth product at our White Mesa Mill in Utah using monazite from Chemours" -- then send that intermediate product to Europe for refining, "creating a new, U.S.-European rare earth supply chain" not dependent upon China in the process.  

Still unprofitable today, there's no guarantee that this venture will end up making any more money for Energy Fuels than its uranium operations ever did. Then again, if more than 25 years of trying one thing hasn't worked out for Energy Fuels, maybe it is time to try something different?

The company can hardly do any worse mining rare earth metals, after all, than it's already done mining uranium.