Now that we have the Cowen Health Care Conference in the rear view mirror, what’s the next prominent stage that will feature some of the smaller cap companies that we follow? Next week, we have the Roth Capital Conference in Dana Point, California, featuring 500 companies across a spectrum of industries. Roth has been a dedicated banker to small cap companies since 1984, and we’ve had the pleasure of attending and participating in panel discussions there in previous years.
While most of our technology focus lies in the realm of application software, we’d like to draw your attention to a clean energy technology company that may benefit from the confluence of multiple organic and macro factors and that will be presenting at Roth on Monday, March 13th, at 4:30pm Pacific time.
Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ and TSX: BLDP)
Ballard is a leader in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell power system development and commercialization. Fuel cells are environmentally clean devices that produce electricity from a mixture of hydrogen fuel and oxygen, with only water and heat as emissions.
We’ve reviewed the company’s annual report filed last week and listened to the earnings conference call with accompanying slides. Here’s what piqued our interest:
- $85 million in revenues in 2016
- $87 million in confirmed bookings already in 2017
- Disciplined approach to controlling cash operating costs
- $73 million in cash with no debt.
- Largest growth segments are Heavy Duty Motive (bus and tram), up 122% over 2015, and Technology Solutions (consulting services), up 31%.
- 2,000 patents and applications
- Very large market opportunity for fuel cells in mass transit vehicles – 20x larger addressable market than Europe and 50x larger than North America
- Strategic partnership with Zhongsan Broad-Ocean Motor
- Investment in 9.9% of Ballard’s common stock made in August 2016
- Technology transfer, license and supply agreements for three Chinese regions including Shanghai made in January 2017
- Signed agreements to deliver fuel cells for:
- Orders for fuel cell engines to power more than 300 buses in the Chinese cities of Foshan and Yunfu
- A deal to localize manufacturing of fuel cell stacks worth a minimum $170 million over 5-years, with built in IP protection
- Two light rail systems for a rolling stock manufacturer
- 20 engines for buses in Beijing
- 10,000 vehicles, including buses and delivery trucks, purchased by Broad Ocean
Q4 2016 acquisition of Protonex could be part of a longer term Trump Trade
- Protonex’s portable fuel cells means the US Military is a Ballard customer.
- These “Power Manager” fuel cells enable optimized power utilization by soldiers in the field, while reducing battery weight.
- If we get the increase in defense spending that the President has called for, Ballard would be in prime position to benefit.
Increasing global awareness and interest in clean energy options
- Major cities looking to ban diesel, including London, Paris, Madrid, Athens, Mexico City and metropolitan centers in China
- Resurgence of interest globally in cars powered by fuel cells: GM/Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Daimler, VW, Chinese OEMs.
While Ballard isn’t exactly a hidden gem with a market cap exceeding $350 million, we think that more investors will take notice as the year progresses. Given the company’s healthy balance sheet, we wouldn’t be surprised to see another acquisition or two this year.
Randy MacEwen, Ballard’s President and CEO, will be presenting at the Roth Conference on Monday, March 13th, at 4:30pm Pacific time. The link to a live audio and webcast of the presentation is http://wsw.com/webcast/roth31/bldp, and a recording of the presentation will be made available at www.ballard.com/investors.
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