Stock market investors were on edge Wednesday morning, seeming increasingly impatient as they waited for the latest decision on interest rates from the Federal Reserve. The central bank's two-day meeting on monetary policy began on Tuesday, and investors anticipate another rate hike despite signs of slowing inflation in the government's latest data on consumer prices. Stock index futures were down very slightly in premarket trading.

Even with the market largely on pause, a couple of stocks stood out in the early morning premarket session. Delta Air Lines (DAL -2.89%) gained altitude after giving an upbeat update on its financial performance, while fuel cell specialist Plug Power (PLUG -4.93%) earned some favorable comments from investors on Wall Street. Read on to learn more about both companies and their future prospects.

Delta's cleared for takeoff

Shares of Delta Air Lines climbed 4.5% in premarket trading Wednesday morning. The airline provided a preview to the presentation it will make to investment professionals later in the day, and what it had to say was highly encouraging not only for the carrier itself but also in its view of the prospects for the entire airline industry.

Delta took the opportunity to boost its guidance for 2022, as CEO Ed Bastian pointed to robust demand for air travel and building momentum for the future. The airline now expects adjusted earnings of between $3.07 and $3.12 per share for 2022, which is higher than the guidance it gave following its release of third-quarter financial results back in October.

In addition, Delta's outlook for 2023 is even more optimistic. The company expects revenue to grow between 15% and 20% from 2022 levels, and it believes it will be able to expand its profit margin considerably even with those higher sales. As a result, Delta predicted earnings of between $5 and $6 per share in 2023 as it restores flight capacity across its network and starts to concentrate on ancillary sources of incremental revenue.

By 2024, Delta expects to earn more than $7 per share, with free cash flow exceeding $4 billion and more attractive leverage levels on its balance sheet. That would represent a complete recovery, and with the stock below $35 per share, it implies an extremely attractive valuation for Delta if things go right.

Plugging in

Meanwhile, shares of Plug Power climbed 3% in premarket trading. The hydrogen fuel-cell specialist got a vote of confidence from analysts on Wall Street, even though the stock has struggled throughout much of the year.

Analysts at UBS initiated their coverage of Plug Power with a buy rating. They also put a $26-per-share price target on the stock, implying upside of more than 80% from the fuel cell stock's closing price on Tuesday. UBS hinged its call on the fact that it sees hydrogen potentially becoming a $10 trillion market by 2030, and it sees Plug Power becoming the market leader in the space to take advantage of that opportunity, calling for $5 billion in sales within the next four years.

The challenge for Plug Power, however, is business execution. The company has worked with key partners for years, but consistent profits have been elusive. There's undoubtedly a huge opportunity to tap into rising interest in renewable energy and the transition to more efficient vehicles, but Plug Power has been pursuing its vision as a publicly traded company for nearly a quarter-century without making as much progress as long-term investors would have liked.

Plug Power is a much more speculative stock than Delta, but Plug's market capitalization is already roughly 40% of Delta's. Investors looking for a clearer growth path ahead might prefer to stick with the airline stock.