I almost feel sorry for Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG). A few months back, my colleague Rich Smith noted with a waggish tone that when the company's last report led with "net cash used in operating activities," all was not well.

You have to hand it to their investor relations folks: They haven't tried too hard to put lipstick on the pig this time around either. Last week's report began with the dubious accomplishment "strengthened distribution channel." Ouch.

Top two accomplishments this quarter? Signing a distribution deal with Tyco and a medical-systems outfit in the Dominican Republic.

If you want to look at the bright side of things, revenues were up 31% over the prior-year quarter, and the net loss was a bit less, though it still came to $0.16 per share. If that revenue jump seems important to you, consider that the tally was a minute $4.6 million. Capitalized at nearly half a billion dollars, this company is still priced at 30 times sales. And profitability is nowhere in sight.

So, what do you suppose is likely to happen to the stock considering that the firm has $37 million in the bank and is burning $8 million per quarter? Nothing good, I'll bet.

To date, none of the formerly white-hot fuel cell triumvirate, including Ballard Power (NASDAQ:BLDP) and FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL), has offered much more than cash burn. A chart such as this one shows the potential for heartburn that awaits investors who chase the next big thing before it's proven to actually be the next big thing. Keep it in mind next time you get the urge to chase something such as Altair Nanotechnologies (NASDAQ:ALTI) or Nanophase Technologies (NASDAQ:NANX) without taking a look at what they really do.

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Seth Jayson thinks fuel cells are cool, but he wouldn't touch fuel cell stocks with a 10-foot powerline. At the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.