UPDATE 2-Plug Power loss bigger than expected; to stay in the red

Wed May 14, 2014 12:58pm EDT

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* Expects Q2 sales of $16 mln-$18 mln

* Expects 2014 EBITDA loss of $0.5 mln-$3 mln

* Expects Q2 EBITDA loss of $3 mln-$4 mln

* Shares fall as much as 10 pct (Adds details from conference call, background, share movement)

May 14 (Reuters) - Fuel-cell maker Plug Power Inc warned it no longer expects to turn profitable this year, after reporting a bigger-than-expected first-quarter loss due to a fall in orders.

The company's shares fell as much as 10 percent on Wednesday.

Plug Power, which makes hydrogen fuel cells to power forklifts, told Reuters in March that it expects to report a profit on an EBITDA basis for the first time in 2014.

The company has been racking up orders ever since French industrial gas maker Air Liquide invested in it last May.

The New York-based company said it had already booked more than $80 million in orders to date in 2014 - double of last year's total orders - but costs have also climbed.

Plug Power expects to stay in the red in the current quarter and forecast a core loss of $3 million-$4 million, Chief Financial Officer David Waldek said on a conference call with analysts.

The company said it expects a full-year EBITDA loss of $500,000 to $3 million.

However, Plug Power said it expected a big jump in orders in the current quarter.

The company expects to ship more than 650 of its GenDrive fuel cell units in the second quarter, a significant increase from the 165 it shipped in the first quarter ended March 31.

Plug Power, which counts Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Daimler AG, Mercedes and BMW among its customers, announced an order for 182 fuel cell units from Central Grocers Inc just last week.

It forecast sales of $16 million-$18 million for the current quarter, above analysts' average estimate of $15.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's fuel-cell systems replace lead-acid batteries to power forklifts without burning fuel, making them an efficient and pollution-free alternative to combustion engines.

Plug Power shares were down about 5 percent at $3.88 in midday trading on the Nasdaq. They had earlier slipped to a low of $3.70.

U.S.-listed fuel cell makers, including Fuel Cell Energy Inc , Ballard Power Systems Inc and Hydrogenics Corp , have been on a tear in recent months as investors bet on growing demand for the cleaner technology.

Plug Power shares have risen more than 1,500 percent in the past 12 months.

Excluding items, the company posted a loss of 6 cents per share, higher than analysts' average estimate of a loss of 5 cents per share.

Revenue fell about 13 percent, to $5.6 million. Orders declined 31 percent in the first quarter, while research and development costs shot up 63 percent. (Reporting by Anannya Pramanick in Bangalore; Editing by Simon Jennings and Sayantani Ghosh)

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