Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) has been the target of a fire storm of over speculation, criticism, and extreme volatility in past few months. Well known names such as Citron Research and, most recently, Global Equities Research have attacked Plug and caused nosedives in the share price. Many believe that this is a speculative stock only, with no hope for being profitable over consistent periods of time. However, its expansion into new markets and uses for its technology, along with an increased revenue stream make Plug Power an asset to hold for the future.
Hydrogen fuel cells are a mostly unknown commodity in the energy market. The United States currently has, according to the US Department of Energy, 55 hydrogen fueling stations, compared to over 9,000 electric fueling stations. For that matter, Plug really isn't even into the market of powering domestic vehicles yet, rather powering warehouse forklifts for the most part (although this may change soon -- I will get into that later).
While the United States market has been only lukewarm to this kind of technology, Asia has been more receptive to hydrogen fuel cells. Both China and Japan have either made plans to build more fueling stations or pledged money to increase R&D in this energy sector. Japan in particular has looked favorably on this technology; the government has provided subsidies for new research and Japanese companies have formed joint ventures to explore hydrogen fueling.
Plug's new deal, as confirmed by a company press release, with Hyundai Hysco, a division of Hyundai Motors, to develop, manufacture, and sell fuel cells in the Asian market is huge. As Asia is starting to warm to this kind of energy, Plug getting in early is key. It is now the biggest producer and seller of fuel cells in this area of the world. Not only is this good because it expands the company's reach, it is another source of profit and allows Plug Power to tap into a mostly untouched market with huge growth potential.
Also, not only is Plug Power moving into new markets, it's expanding its own technology as well. The new GenKey technology that allows companies a faster and seamless transition from old energy sources to the new hydrogen fuel cells is an enticing extra oomph to the whole shebang.
Companies can sit back and let the GenKey solution easily make the change, without worrying about something going wrong, or having to pay extra ridiculous fees for the shift. Plug's recent deal with FedEx (NYSE:FDX) to power 20 trucks with hydrogen fuel cells, which may develop into a long-term, expanded agreement profitable for both companies, is representative of the transition of Plug's technology. Now, powering forklifts is not the only function of the cells; as new fields are explored, potential for different applications of this technology grows.
The new revenue of Plug may be the single most important factor in deciding the future of this company. Investors have not liked the recent two stock offerings but there is a definite silver lining in these moves. Plug Power's total revenue in the fourth quarter of 2014 was $8 million. The two latest secondary offerings have raised almost $150 million in new revenue and for such a small company this is great.
For a tiny, growing business, this kind of money will allow new research, more expansion, and can lead to increased profits. Sales orders for 2014 have already exceeded $60 million; according to CEO Andy Marsh, overall orders for the year are predicted to reach $150 million, and the company is expected to be profitable for the first time ever. As Plug Power reaches agreements with large companies such as Kroger, Wal-Mart, and FedEx, only expect more orders to come in.
Yes, questions and doubt remain surrounding Plug. Yes, it's a tiny company that is not even profitable yet. But, its long-term future is bright. The company is expanding into new markets, developing new applications for its technology, and generating more revenue. Don't be afraid of those who are in the asset simply to speculate or those doubters that question the company itself; rather look at the huge potential for growth. Plug Power may yet turn out to be a strong investment for the future.
I have a long position in Plug Power. I have no position in any other of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends FedEx. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. 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.