On Oct. 30, FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL) closed at an even $2. Now, just over ten weeks since then, FCEL stock has rallied some 688% to $15.76.
Of course, the fact that FCEL has boomed so high isn’t a reason for concern on its own. I’ve discussed the danger of so-called “anchoring” bias before — the belief that a stock is too expensive just because it has posted a significant rally. Stocks that have posted big rallies — and we’ve seen many of those over the past ten months — often have done so because the market is adjusting to new information.
However, the problem with FCEL is that there’s been little-to-no new information over the course of its rally. Instead, the boom is due more to “clean energy” stocks simply going haywire.
That’s not to say there’s no good news here at all, or that FuelCell is a short. Rather, it’s to suggest that investors should consider the most salient question about the stock at this point. The fact is that a business that was valued at $2 per share in October is currently worth nearly $16 without much news. So, was the market that wrong in October — or is it wrong now?
FCEL Stock Has No News
It bears repeating: there’s been little news for FCEL stock between today and Oct. 30. In fact, there’s only really been three smaller developments to highlight and none of them look particularly bullish. All three could actually be seen as bearish.
First, FuelCell Energy lost projects in Connecticut that it thought it had won. Four 2.8 megawatt projects across the state had been awarded in September, only to be pulled in December.
Now, it’s still possible that FuelCell gets those wins back. And even if it doesn’t, the loss of the projects doesn’t break its growth story. Still, the news hardly seems positive for the company.
Second, at the beginning of December, FCEL pre-announced figures for its fourth quarter (which should be officially released this month). Revenue of $16 million to $17.5 million came in below Wall Street expectations.
That revenue did grow nicely year-over-year, but this is a company that now has a market capitalization of $5 billion. Annualized revenue based on the high end of fiscal Q4 figures sits at just $70 million. That’s a nearly 70 times price-to-revenue multiple.
The last development, though, is that FuelCell Energy took advantage of its rally to sell stock in December: nearly 40 million shares. More specifically, the company sold 25 million shares and a major stockholder sold another 14.7 million. And somehow, both the company and those stockholders were happy to accept just $6.50 per share, less than half the current price.
Now, to be fair, the offering is good news in the sense that FCEL stock was able to raise much-needed capital. What’s more, we’ve also seen that equity raises can create a “virtuous cycle” for green stocks — more capital leads to higher growth expectations, which leads to a higher stock price. That then leads to the ability to raise even more capital, this time at a better price.
Meanwhile, equity offerings almost always are priced at a discount to the market, in order to attract the cash needed for such “block” transactions.
But still, the gap between $6.50 — in a deal that closed on Dec. 4 — and the current price is massive. And again, a major shareholder — Orion Energy Partners — took the opportunity to sell at the same price. Orion sold about 84% of its stake. If Orion sold at $6.50, does it make sense to buy above $15?
So, why has FCEL stock soared so far, so fast?
There are some reasons for long-term optimism, certainly. For one, governments and corporations are looking to minimize their environmental footprints. And it’s probably not a coincidence that FCEL stock took off just before the U.S. presidential election — investors undoubtedly see President-elect Joe Biden as a win for the entire industry. Finally, Democratic control of the Senate after Georgia run-offs only adds to the hope that the federal government will become a big backer of fuel cells.
But I’m skeptical. On one hand, the likelihood of a “Green New Deal” seems thin at best. Plus, it’s far from guaranteed that FuelCell Energy can take advantage, even with government help.
This also isn’t a new company. It was founded in 1969 and went public in 1992. Nearly three decades on, FCEL is nowhere close to profitable.
Again, little has changed. All that has happened is a monster — and potentially unsustainable — rally in the clean energy. From here, that rally looks like it could reverse, bringing FCEL down with it.
On the date of publication, neither Matt McCall nor the InvestorPlace Research Staff member primarily responsible for this article held (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in the article.
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