Why Plug Power Inc.'s Shares Plunged 14% Today

What happened 

Shares of Plug Power Inc. (NASDAQ: PLUG) fell as much as 14.4% in trading Wednesday after the hydrogen fuel cell company released a third-quarter report that showed strong growth, but a massive net loss. At 12:32 p.m. EDT shares were still down 9.6% on the day, and a recovery doesn't seem to be imminent.

So what

Gross revenue more than tripled to $61.4 million, but net revenue only doubled to $35.4 million after accounting for stock warrant provisions. However, Plug Power's net loss more than tripled to $41.0 million, or $0.18 per share.

Management also said that higher costs to meet customer demand will lead to much lower margins than expected for the year. Adjusted gross margin is expected to be 5% to 6%, well below the previous guidance range of 8% to 12%. What's even worse is that estimated cash burn for the year was increased from a range of $25 million to $35 million to a range of $40 million to $45 million. That's money the company doesn't have: There's only $8 million in unrestricted cash on its balance sheet.

Now what

Plug Power's problem has always been its inability to generate cash from its business, and growing actually exacerbates that issue. Management has been promising growth and margin improvement for years, but has never delivered. That's why I'm not buying this stock, despite its growth in Q3. If history is any guide, a dilutive stock offering is just around the corner, which will be more bad news for shareholders.

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Travis Hoium has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.