What happened

Shares of hydrogen fuel cell company Plug Power (PLUG 5.69%) are falling today, down by 4.3% as of 3 p.m. EDT. The funny thing is, Plug Power issued a business update this morning that was probably intended to be taken as good news.

But that's not how investors are taking it.

White arrow declining sharply atop a stock tickertape display bathed in red, with columns of numbers in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

So what did Plug Power say today? Anticipating that it will achieve "record gross billings" in 2022, the company is reorganizing its management team by appointing four general managers "to meet the growing demand of its clean energy solutions," one manager for each of the company's business units.  

Ole Hoefelmann will lead the company's electrolyzer solutions business unit, producing hydrogen for its fuel cells. Jose Luis Crespo will handle material handling solutions. Keith Schmid will head up mobility and stationary power solutions, including Plug Power's plan to foray into fuel cell-powered commercial vans. Finally, Sanjay Shrestha will manage energy solutions, which aims to build and operate "green hydrogen plants" that will produce 500 tons of liquid hydrogen per day by 2025.

Now what

Plug Power clearly has big ambitions in hydrogen, but that still leaves the question why these ambitions seem to be worrying investors today.

My guess? For Plug Power to evolve from a maker of fuel cells primarily for the forklift market into a company that also makes hydrogen, fuel cells, and fuel cell-powered cars, and builds factories to support all of the above, it's going to require a lot of capital investment -- a lot of up-front cash with no guarantee of a payoff in the form of profits at the end of it all.

As that realization sinks in, and Plug Power continues to base its forecasts on revenue and "billings" with little talk of profits, it's understandable that investors might be getting just a little bit nervous.