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August 7th, 2023 | 07:25 CEST

Breakthroughs in the hydrogen sector - Nikola, First Hydrogen, Plug Power

  • Hydrogen
  • greenhydrogen
  • renewableenergies
  • Electromobility
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Just last week, the German cabinet approved the update of the National Hydrogen Strategy from 2020, which is now being further developed to meet the increased level of ambition in climate protection and the new challenges in the energy market. Hydrogen is seen as the missing piece of the energy transition puzzle, and not just for Germany. Considerable progress has been made in the development of vehicles powered by hydrogen and fuel cells. At the same time, many innovative companies from this sector appear promising in the long term after the correction.

time to read: 4 minutes | Author: Stefan Feulner
ISIN: NIKOLA CORP. | US6541101050 , First Hydrogen Corp. | CA32057N1042 , PLUG POWER INC. DL-_01 | US72919P2020

Table of contents:

    Nikola - Flying high, falling low

    Just last week, we were raving about the resurrection of the Nikola share. But then came the shocking news! As the Company announced on Friday, Michael Lohscheller announced his resignation from the position of CEO at the American electric truck manufacturer. The reasons are of a personal nature, and the former Opel boss wants to return to Europe. Effective immediately, Steven Girsky, the former Chairman of the Board of Directors and former top manager at General Motors, will take over the post. For Nikola, this means the fourth change on the command bridge in just four years.

    In addition to the unfortunate news, the provider of zero-emission transportation, energy supply, and infrastructure solutions released second-quarter figures. Nikola reported a net loss of USD 217.8 million, or USD 0.31 per share. This figure includes a loss of USD 77.8 million attributable to discontinued operations, including the closure of the former Romeo Power battery manufacturing facility in California that Nikola acquired last year. Total revenue fell 15% to USD 15.4 million. As of the end of June, cash and cash equivalents were USD 226.7 million, compared with USD 121.1 million at the end of the first quarter.

    In addition, Nikola received shareholder approval to issue new shares, paving the way for raising additional funds to support the launch of its Tre fuel cell electric truck and the development of a hydrogen fueling station network in the US and Canada. Following the release, Nikola shares lost double digits to USD 2.50, giving up almost all of their weekly gain. A prominent support area runs at this level, but investors should wait before making a new investment.

    First Hydrogen - Above expectations

    The test drives of First Hydrogen's hydrogen fuel cell vehicles under real road conditions continue to be positive and even better than expected. The First Hydrogen Vehicle achieved a range of 630 km on a single refueling. According to fleet management provider Rivus, which is responsible for managing more than 120,000 light commercial vehicles and trucks annually and started the test cycle, each lasting 4 weeks, the new best was achieved by drivers from UK energy provider SSE PLC. As one of the UK's largest energy infrastructure companies, SSE has created a carbon neutrality action plan and recently expanded its investment in renewable energy and power grids to £18 billion.

    In addition to its impressive range, the Canadian hydrogen company's FCEV (Fuelcell Energy Vehicle), based in Vancouver and London, shone with its extremely economical average fuel consumption, even at consistently higher speeds, of 1.58 kg of hydrogen per 100 km. According to SSE drivers, the vehicle behaved like a diesel vehicle but without polluting emissions. In addition, the FCEV kept its battery at maximum charge by regenerating from braking, meaning the amount of kWh charged and discharged was comparable, illustrating the efficiency of First Hydrogen's integrated energy management system.

    A total of 16 large fleet operators from industries such as grocery, delivery, healthcare, and utilities are participating in the tests, each lasting 4 weeks and coordinated by the Aggregated Hydrogen Freight Consortium (AHFC). Data collected by onboard telematics will then be analyzed, and comparisons will be made between battery electric vehicles and vehicles with internal combustion engines. Hydrogen aims to enter the commercial market with the first generation of its hydrogen-powered light commercial vehicles between 2025 and 2026. Then, according to company CEO Balraj Mann, initial sales should be between 10,000 and 20,000 units. At an estimated selling price of around EUR 50,000, the best-case scenario would open up revenues of EUR 1 billion for this business sector alone. In comparison, First Hydrogen's market capitalization currently stands at CAD 140.78 million.

    In addition to developing FCEVs, First Hydrogen aims to cover the entire hydrogen value chain with its "Hydrogen-as-a-Service" model.

    Plug Power - It is getting exciting

    Will there be a déjà vu experience on Wednesday, August 9, after the US market close? That is when Plug Power, with its go-getting CEO Andy Marsh, will present its numbers for the second quarter. In the past, the Company disappointed both analysts and investors several times. After the figures in the first quarter were below forecasts, with sales of USD 210.30 million and an almost identical net loss of minus USD 209.80 million, the ambitious annual targets of USD 1.4 billion with a positive gross margin were maintained despite everything.

    Thus, Plug Power is almost on a mission to deliver a positive surprise in the expected numbers. In terms of revenues, the forecast is USD 234 million, with an EBIT of minus USD 151 million. The expectation for the consolidated loss is minus USD 154 million, reflecting a loss per share of USD -0.26.

    Another important question will be when and how the capital required for growth, Plug Power intends to invest around USD 1 billion annually in hydrogen innovations, will be raised. Because this time, according to the ideas of Company management, the existing shareholders should not be diluted. Instead, project financing, equity capital on a project basis, corporate bonds, and financing options with the Department of Energy should be preferred.

    After doubling since early May to USD 13.44, Plug Power's stock has been consolidating and is currently trading at USD 11.56. Due to further potential for disappointment, it is better to watch the announcement of the quarterly figures from the sidelines.

    After the record run of the past few weeks, Nikola shareholders were brought down to earth. First Hydrogen celebrated further range records during test drives. Plug Power is about to release its financial results, with the risk of further disappointment.

    Conflict of interest

    Pursuant to §85 of the German Securities Trading Act (WpHG), we point out that Apaton Finance GmbH as well as partners, authors or employees of Apaton Finance GmbH (hereinafter referred to as "Relevant Persons") may hold shares or other financial instruments of the aforementioned companies in the future or may bet on rising or falling prices and thus a conflict of interest may arise in the future. The Relevant Persons reserve the right to buy or sell shares or other financial instruments of the Company at any time (hereinafter each a "Transaction"). Transactions may, under certain circumstances, influence the respective price of the shares or other financial instruments of the Company.

    In addition, Apaton Finance GmbH is active in the context of the preparation and publication of the reporting in paid contractual relationships.

    For this reason, there is a concrete conflict of interest.

    The above information on existing conflicts of interest applies to all types and forms of publication used by Apaton Finance GmbH for publications on companies.

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    Der Autor

    Stefan Feulner

    The native Franconian has more than 20 years of stock exchange experience and a broadly diversified network.
    He is passionate about analyzing a wide variety of business models and investigating new trends.

    About the author

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