Wal-Mart's fuel cell order lifts Plug Power shares

Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:14pm EST

The Walmart logo is pictured at its store in the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

The Walmart logo is pictured at its store in the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles November 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevork Djansezian

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(Reuters) - Plug Power Inc (PLUG.O) said it would supply its hydrogen fuel cells to Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), boosting an already strong order book and sending its shares up 19 percent.

The company did not disclose the value of the Wal-Mart order, but Cowen & Co analyst Robert Stone estimated it may be worth more than $50 million.

"We are sure that this is not the only order they will book this quarter," he said.

Orders have been pouring for New York-based Plug Power since French industrial gas manufacturer Air Liquide (AIRP.PA) invested $6.5 million in the company last May.

Plug Power booked $32 million orders in the quarter ended December 31 and had forecast higher orders for the first quarter.

Bookings jumped to $11 million between mid-May and October of 2013 from $1 million in the first five months.

The company's hydrogen batteries, used to power forklifts and other material-handling equipment, are in demand as they take lesser time to recharge than heavy lead-acid batteries.

Many of Plug Power's customers that include BMW (BMWG.DE) and Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N) are also reordering.

The Wal-Mart order will add 1,738 fuel cell units over two years to the 535 Plug Power units the world's largest retailer already uses in the United States and Canada.

"There is plenty of potential in just the existing customer base for more repeat orders. We expect all this activity is going to sell to new customers as well," Stone said.

With orders rising, Plug Power's shares have been on a tear. The stock, which traded at 12 cents a year ago, was up nearly 15 percent at $4.47 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday, valuing the company at about $520 million.

Nasdaq-listed shares of Ballard Power Systems Inc (BLDP.O) (BLD.TO), which supplies fuel cell products to Plug Power, were up 11 percent.

(Reporting by Garima Goel in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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