Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ:BLDP) were sent into the stratosphere today -- up by as much as 55% -- on news that it had executed an $80 million deal with Volkswagen (OTC:VWAGY) that involves the sale of some intellectual property as well as an extension of its engineering services contract. The deal has also lifted the shares of both Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) and FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL) by as much as 10%. 

So What: Ballard has been working with Volkswagen for several years now under these engineering services contracts, and the two year extension will provide the company with $80 million-$110 million in revenue over the next six years with another option to extend the agreement for another two. The bigger deal here is the sale of patents. In exchange for some of Ballard's intellectual property, Volkswagen is giving the company about $40-$60 million, which will give a nice bump for the quarterly numbers but won't provide a whole lot of long term value.

For the rest of the lot, fuel cell companies have been moving on prospective news, even if the news didn't necessarily pertain to that particular company. This was on full display with FuelCell Energy and Plug Power. Ballard is the only one of these three companies targeting the automotive industry, so for Plug and FuelCell to move this much goes to show that it was more on the hopes that fuel cells will play a larger role in the future rather than a bottom line impact.

Now what: Hopefully, everyone learned their lesson when it came to these companies last year. Announcements of big deals come few and far between, and the constant slog of quarterly losses eventually reminds investors that these companies are a long ways away from steady growth and profitability. Deals like this are a step in the right direction, but it's only one step on a very long road.