* First-quarter loss widens on higher costs, customer delays
* Sales falls 35 pct, costs rise 22.3 pct
* Backlog up 2.6 pct - slowest growth in three quarters
* Hydrogenics shares down as much as 15 pct
* Ballard Power, Fuel Cell shares also fall
(Adds details, analyst comment, updates shares)
By Sneha Banerjee
May 7 Canadian fuel cell maker Hydrogenics
Corp's quarterly net loss tripled as costs
jumped and customers delayed taking deliveries, driving the
company's shares down as much as 15 percent.
The company's quarterly sales fell for the first time in two
years and its order backlog for the first quarter ended March 31
rose 2.6 percent, slower than the growth in the preceding two
Hydrogenics' results also weighed on the shares of rival
fuel cell makers Ballard Power Systems Inc and
Fuel Cell Energy Inc.
Fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and
offer a cleaner alternative to lead-acid batteries. They are
used in everything from power backup to forklifts to
The clean technology had captured the attention of investors
over the past year and they pushed the stock of fuel cell makers
rose to multi-year highs earlier this year.
But lingering worries about the sustainability of the
companies were aggravated last week when privately owned fuel
cell maker ClearEdge Power Inc filed for bankruptcy protection.
"I think the Clear Edge filing will make it difficult for
less mature or commercially centered players to attract
capital," Canaccord Genuity analyst Sara Elford told Reuters
earlier this week.
Hydrogenics on Wednesday reported that its net loss widened
to $3.7 million, or 41 cents per share, in the first quarter
from $1.1 million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.
Operating costs rose 22.3 percent.
The Mississauga, Ontario-based company's sales fell by more
than a third to $8.1 million, hurt by the customer delays it had
warned of in early April and the absence of deliveries to a key
partner, that had helped the year-earlier quarter.
The company reaffirmed its full-year revenue forecast of at
least $50 million. Analysts' on average were expecting revenue
of $53.8 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Hydrogenics shares fell to a low of $18.27 by late morning
on Wednesday on the Nasdaq. The stock hit a six-year high of
$35.52 on March 11 but has since fallen nearly 40 percent,
excluding Wednesday's losses.
Short interest in the stock has touched a five-year high
with nearly 4.7 percent of the stock have being sold short as of
April 15, according to Thomson Reuters data.
However, the short interest in Hydrogenics is less than that
in Plug Power Inc, Ballard and Fuel Cell, all of whom
have a short interest in the 10-20 percent range.
Investors who borrow and sell shares short are betting that
bad news will push prices down, allowing them to buy and return
the shares at a lower price and pocket the difference.
(Writing by Sayantani Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Savio