What happened

It's been a tough first half of 2022 for investors, with the S&P 500 dipping 18% lower. It's been an especially difficult time for investors in Plug Power (PLUG -2.32%), however, as the hydrogen stock tumbled 41% through the first six months of 2022, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Besides the company's inability to meet expectations regarding its first-quarter 2022 earnings reports, a slew of numerous reduced price targets from analysts led investors to sell shares through the first half of the year.

So what

While Plug Power's fourth-quarter 2021 earnings report charged up investors' enthusiasm in early March, the company's first earnings report in 2022 failed to yield the same result.

Plug Power reported sales of $140.8 million and a loss per share of $0.27, failing to meet analysts' expectations that included revenue of $144.5 million and a loss per share of $0.16.

Perhaps the greater concern, however, was the company's excessive cash burn. In the first quarter, Plug Power reported negative $210 million in operating cash flow, notably steeper than the negative $117 million that it reported during the same period in 2021.

Another contributing factor to the stock's decline through the first half of 2022 was the consistently dour stance that analysts had taken. Shortly after Plug Power's business update in January, for example, several analysts reduced their price targets. Among numerous analyst actions, some of the more notable ones came from Wells Fargo, which cut its price target to $26 from $40, and Canaccord, which slashed its target to $25 from $38.

Following the company's first-quarter earnings report in May, Wall Street provided more bearish outlooks as analysts at Susquehanna and Craig-Hallum both reduced their price targets. June provided little reprieve. During the month, Piper Sandler initiated coverage on the stock with a neutral rating and an $18 price target; shares had closed at $18.85 the day before it was announced that coverage on the stock had begun. And on June 29, J.P. Morgan lowered its price target to $28 from $32.

Now what

While shares of Plug Power dimmed through the first half of 2022, the second half of the year is off to a bright start; the fuel cell stock is up more than 9% so far in July.

But renewable energy investors who have been waiting for an opportune time to pick up shares shouldn't surmise that the hydrogen stock will maintain this upward trajectory for the rest of the year. In fact, it would be unsurprising if Plug Power continues its unexpectedly high losses per share and sharp cash outflows in upcoming earnings reports.