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Why FuelCell Energy, Palo Alto Networks, and Nuverra Environmental Solutions Soared Today

By Dan Caplinger – Mar 7, 2014 at 3:00PM

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Stocks finished the day modestly higher, with the S&P 500 hitting yet another record high. But the gains in these three stocks were anything but modest. Find out more about why these stocks soared.

Friday featured continuing turbulence for the stock market, as the S&P 500 managed to pick up a single point to reach a new record high. On the whole, stocks were mixed, with bond yields rising, and the Nasdaq underperforming the broader market. But shares of FuelCell Energy (FCEL -0.36%), Palo Alto Networks (PANW 0.72%), and Nuverra Environment Solutions (NESC) all jumped substantially today, with optimism about their respective prospects helping drive investor interest toward their three stocks.

FuelCell Energy (FCEL) soared 18%, bringing its gain for the week to 81%, and hitting another four-year high. The fuel-cell maker announced this morning that it had received a $2.8 million continuation award from the Department of Energy to showcase its products' ability to generate hydrogen, electricity, and heat at the same time. The news highlights the fact that FuelCell uses different technology from fellow fuel-cell specialist Plug Power (PLUG 2.00%), which posted an even more impressive gain of 30% today. FuelCell's emphasis on larger-scale projects could give it a competitive edge over Plug Power for some lucrative business opportunities, and excitement about the industry generally has raised investor awareness of all of the stocks in the space.

Palo Alto Networks (PANW) gained 11% after a jury failed to reach a verdict in a patent-infringement trial that rival Juniper Networks (JNPR 2.01%) had filed against the company. The issue arose in part because Palo Alto's founders were former employees of Juniper, but the jury wasn't able to come to an agreement about whether Palo Alto had infringed on at least one of the three Juniper patents involved in the lawsuit. The mistrial doesn't prevent Juniper from pursuing the case again, but given the pressure it's under from activist investors, the extra time and expense involved in retrying the case aren't welcome news for Juniper, and could prompt the companies to reach a settlement that would be more favorable to Palo Alto.

Nuverra Environment Solutions (NES) also rose almost 11% after analysts at Wunderlich Securities maintained their favorable rating on the oilfield water-services company, citing a price target at more than twice the stock's current price. Although the analyst expressed some concern about the company's Texas and Louisiana assets, Nuverra has a strong opportunity in the Bakken, and if that goes well, then short-term weather-related challenges could give way to greater growth in the future. Given the pounding that Nuverra's shares took in 2013, the company could use some respite from what has been a tough time.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nuverra Environmental Solutions. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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