What’s the Stock Play in Wake of the Over-hyped Story About Fuel Cell Developer Bloom Energy?

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Bill Paul

Having been a Wall Street Journal energy and environment reporter, one of the first experts I would have called before running a story on privately-held solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) developer Bloom Energy would have been Neal Dikeman, who in addition to being a prominent alternative energy investor and the writer of an authoritative blog on clean technology, was involved in developing a fuel cell company.

But as Dikeman posted lasted week – Saving Cleantech: Bloom town Silicon Valley? – he didn’t get a call from the folks at CBS’s 60 Minutes, so the raft of legitimate technical questions Dikeman raised in his column went unanswered even as breathless 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl all-but-declared the energy crisis over thanks to Bloom.

To its credit, CBS did include an interview with a Bloom skeptic; however, he was more-or-less a prop inserted to make the story look balanced. If you read Dikeman’s list of unanswered technical questions surrounding Bloom’s technology, you realize that CBS never should have aired this piece in the first place, at least not without a lot more on-camera independent expert testimony.

But if Bloom Energy is over-hyped, investors might want to look closer at two fuel cell companies Dikeman says “are arguably shipping commercial product today,” FuelCell Energy (Symbol FCEL) and SFC Smart Fuel Cell. (Symbol SSMFF).

In announcing last week that it was initiating coverage on FuelCell Energy, Liberty Analytics noted that the company is the “world leader in the development and production of stationary fuel cells for commercial, industrial, municipal and utility customers,” and that its direct fuel cells (DFC) are generating power at over 55 locations worldwide.

Although still in the red, FuelCell Energy recently hired a seasoned senior executive in a bid to accelerate market penetration. The company is scheduled to announce its first-quarter results on March 10.

Smart Fuel is a German company that EnergyTechStocks.com has previously suggested investors might want to look at more closely. While also still in he red, the company’s losses have been narrowing significantly. The company describes itself as the market leader in fuel cell technologies for mobile and off-grid power applications serving leisure, industrial and military markets. Importantly, the company, in partnership with DuPont (Symbol DD), recently got a glowing review from the U.S. Defense Department for its lightweight power packs that soldiers can use in the field. DOD said the power pack “could offer a significant advancement in the area of soldier portable power in the field. (For more see From Small Fries to Big Shots? CBD Energy and SFC Smart Fuel Cell Look Promising.)

DISCLOSURE: No position.

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Bill Paul is Managing Editor of EnergyTechStocks.com.