March 15th, 2023 | 10:04 CET
Varta, Plug Power, Altech Advanced Materials: Only one share is currently convincing
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"[...] The collaboration with CVMR offers two primary advantages for Power Nickel: We can cover a larger portion of the value chain in the future, and despite the extensive cooperation with all its positive outcomes, we have remained significantly independent. [...]" Terry Lynch, CEO, Power Nickel
Altech: Things are currently going well
Things are currently going well at Altech Advanced Materials AG. The Heidelberg-based company is working on a new standard for lithium-ion batteries. From a chart perspective, things are also looking really good. After the share tripled in value within a few days last fall, it has maintained a high level and can thus soon take off again. In order to continue research and expand battery production, Altech recently successfully placed a convertible bond with a volume of around EUR 3.5 million. In the current environment, this is quite remarkable. It also confirms investors' confidence in the technology of Altech and its joint venture partners.
As a first step, Altech's newly developed coating technology is expected to help prevent the loss of battery capacity that has been common up to now. The Company is currently building a pilot plant in Saxony, Germany, to convince e-car manufacturers of the benefits of the batteries, for example.
Altech's other plans are even more exciting: the production of solid-state batteries for energy storage - these will make a decisive contribution to the success of the energy transition in the future. The market volume is huge: Altech expects the market for grid storage to grow by around 28% annually in the coming decades, reaching a volume of USD 15.1 billion in 2027. Together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems, the Company is researching solid-state sodium-alumina batteries. These require neither lithium, graphite, copper, nor cobalt and are thus considered future-oriented. Fraunhofer estimates that the cost of producing the batteries, called CERENERGY, will be around 40% lower than lithium-ion batteries. They are also expected to be fire- and explosion-proof and have a service life of more than 15 years. The capacity of the first production line is already said to be 100 MWh p.a. Although Altech is "only" the junior partner in the joint venture with a share of 18.75%, this also has advantages. The risk is reduced, and the Company has to bear the smaller part of the investment. Otherwise, the market capitalization would likely not be below EUR 40 million but well into triple digits.
Varta: Where are the price drivers?
Varta has blown its entry into the battery market. Since the profit warning in the fall and the crash of the share from over EUR 60, the price has been bobbing between EUR 20 and EUR 30. Thus the share of the German battery icon has more or less degenerated into a gambler's stock.
Operationally, there is currently little news to report. It has become very quiet around V4Drive as Varta's entry into the e-car battery segment. Most recently, the Company has put the energy storage area up front and jumped on the AI hype. As part of a research project, Varta wants to make its batteries more efficient with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). The aim is to optimize the available capacity and reduce the wear and tear on batteries. However, this is a lot of future talk and will hardly help the share in the foreseeable future. The project is expected to run until 2025.
Plug Power: Figures down, outlook up
The situation at Plug Power is also tricky at present, but the outlook appears better than at Varta. The American company had to publish several sales and profit warnings in 2022. In the end, sales were around EUR 701 million. Like other hydrogen companies such as Nel and ITM Power, Plug Power was plagued by supply chain problems. However, the outlook is positive. Sales are expected to rise to USD 1.4 billion in the current year. And the order intake also gives cause for hope. Most recently, Uniper placed an order. Plug Power is to build an electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen in the port of Rotterdam for the energy supplier. Production is to start in 2026 with a capacity of 100 MW. It is to be expanded to 500 MW by 2030.
But order intake has never been Plug Power's problem - instead, it is the implementation. Therefore, the chart is severely battered. In February, the security fell out of the sideways trend between USD 15 and 19. With the downward movement, the 50-day line was also undercut. Currently, the share can at least still hold above the support of USD 12 - but no more.
Varta and Plug Power are not worth buying at the moment. The German battery producer has disappointed too often and lacks the price driver for the next 1 to 2 years. However, the price fluctuations are still high and interesting for traders. At Plug Power, investors invest in the breakthrough in hydrogen. Currently, companies around the world are investing heavily in technology. But Plug Power needs to increase sales more quickly and reduce losses significantly. At Altech, things are going well: the battery technologies seem promising, the stock chart looks good, and the successful capital measure shows investors have confidence.
Conflict of interest
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