What happened

Fuel cell stocks are on the move Monday, with shares of Plug Power (PLUG -0.77%), Bloom Energy (BE -0.55%), and FuelCell Energy (FCEL) all gaining in afternoon trading. As of 1:25 p.m. EDT, Bloom Energy is up 3.3%, Plug is gaining 5.7%, and FuelCell Energy is doing best of all, booking a 13.7% gain.

Not coincidentally, FuelCell Energy is probably also the reason everyone is getting excited.

Three colorful arrows racing straight up on a black background.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Last week, FuelCell Energy finally set the date for its Q2 earnings release -- Thursday, June 10, before market open. In contrast, Bloom Energy won't report earnings again before July, and Plug isn't due out with new numbers until August.    

This means that, for the next month at least, FuelCell Energy is kind of in the driver's seat regarding fuel cell news. In the absence of significant updates from its rivals, investors can be expected to take FuelCell's Thursday results as a proxy for how Plug and Bloom are likely to perform when they next report earnings.

Now what

What will FuelCell's numbers look like? Will the news be good or bad? It probably depends on how you look at it.

According to Wall Street analysts polled by S&P Global Market Intelligence, revenue in FuelCell's fiscal Q2 is expected to be more or less flat against last year's Q2 -- $18.9 million -- while losses could be a bit lighter -- $0.05 per share, versus $0.06 per share lost a year ago. Further good news could arrive in the form of a jump in revenue. After three straight quarters of revenue going down sequentially, analysts believe that Q2 2021 could see it finally start growing again, sequentially, breaking the string of bad news quarters.

All that being said, FuelCell Energy remains the fuel cell company with the weakest prospects for sustained profitability. According to analyst estimates, it won't earn its first full-year profit (since 1997) before 2025 -- ending a quarter-century streak of losing money. Bloom Energy, on the other hand, could become profitable by 2023, while Plug Power could do so in 2024.

The better the news FuelCell reports on Thursday, the better the chances of those other companies hitting their marks as well.