Green Energy Pariah Plug Power Inc. (PLUG) Turning it Around

Jacob Harper  |

From solar companies to electric car manufacturers to clean energy component manufacturers, stocks in the clean energy sector as a monolith are rounding out a spectacular 2013 with a bang. This week the trend has become most apparent in small-cap fuel cell manufacturer Plug Power Inc. (PLUG) , who have experienced significant gains in December with a pronounced rise occurring on Dec. 12.

One Dec. 4 the company confirmed that 2014 would definitely be profitable, reversing 16 straight years in the red. Investors who had long stuck with the company, believing that green energy manufacturers would get their day have been vindicated. After affirming the company would finally make money, shares rose some 60 percent in a day. That march upwards had tempered somewhat, but investor exuberance had still caused the company’s shares to notch a monthly gain north of 240 percent.  

Plug Power’s triumphant return on its promises is mainly due to an “insane,” “blowout” fourth quarter that has seen the company book far and away the most orders they ever have. CEO Andy Marsh indicated orders have already topped $40 million, and expects 2014 revenue to top $70 million.

Not bad for a company whose entire market cap is currently less than $7 million, a sliver of what it was once.

At the height of the tech bubble in 2000, Plug Power nearly broke $1500 a share before absolutely tanking. The price continues dwindling all decade, and have lingered under $50 a share since 2004, under $10 a share since 2008, and under $2 a share since 2011.

Plug Power’s clean-energy fuel cells are currently primarily used in forklifts. Plans to expand into the much more lucrative clean car business are underway, and if successful could signal a major turnaround for a company that hadn’t turned a profit since going public in 1999.

Plug Power gained 8.98 percent by midday trading on Dec. 12, hitting $1.92 a share.

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