Fuel cell makers become big targets for shorts as shares surge

|By:, SA News Editor

Shorts against the share prices of red-hot fuel cell manufacturers are climbing as questions emerge about the prospects for profits.

Plug Power’s (PLUG +11.4%) short interest reached a two-and-a-half-year high of 10.6% of shares outstanding on March 10, up from 2.4% in September; shorts in FuelCell Energy (FCEL +1.8%) reached 14.2% yesterday vs. 4% in June; and Ballard Power (BLDP +1.7%) surged to a record 3% from 0.2% in October.

PLUG plunged yesterday after short-seller Andrew Left said in a report that the shares are worth 50 cents, and Left adds another criticism today, saying PLUG will be threatened if larger companies move into its market, such as Toyota (TM), which plans to release a fuel-cell sedan next year.

"If fuel cells become standard in fork lifts, Toyota is ready to step in,” Left says today. "If hydrogen becomes the fuel of the future, then Wal-Mart will take the cheapest supplier.”

Cowen's Robert Stone, who downgraded FCEL today, counters that PLUG dominates the market in fuel cells for material handling and has more than 100 patents that will help protect its advantage should additional suppliers enter the market.