Barron's

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Hydrogen fuel cells stand at the Ballard Power Systems Inc.

James MacDonald/Bloomberg

Fuel cell technology company Ballard Power Systems reported disappointing sales and the stock is falling in premarket trading Tuesday.

Shares are down about 12%. S&P 500 stock futures, for comparison, are down 0.1%.

Monday evening, Ballard (ticker: BLDP) reported a 6 cent per share loss from $17.6 million in sales. Wall Street was looking for a five-cent loss from $25.7 million in sales.

The result isn’t what Ballard stockholders wanted. Share have struggled lately, down about 13% year to date, trailing behind comparable returns of thee S&P and Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Shares were up after the company reported fourth-quarter results in March. Investors were excited about the possibility for more green energy spending under a Biden administration, something that could help Ballard, which makes hydrogen fuel cells that emit no carbon dioxide. Ballard shares rose about 226% in 2020, including a 55% jump in the fourth quarter. But now that President Biden has made his proposal, shares have struggled. It’s been sell on the news.

The company still sounds optimistic. “Supported by a strengthening policy backdrop and increased customer engagement, we have clearer line of sight on long-term growth in our core medium- and heavy-duty motive applications of bus, truck, rail and marine,” said CEO Randy MacEwen in the company’s news release. “2021 will be marked by increased and accelerated investment ahead of market tipping points.”

Wall Street appears to mirror the optimism. Almost 70% recommend the stock. The average Buy-rating ratio for stocks in the S&P is roughly 55%. The average analyst target price is about $32, up more than 55% from Monday’s close of $20.26.

Ballard management hosts and conference call on Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. to discuss results. Analysts and investors will be eager to hear about policy developments as well as new partnerships for expanding the use of Ballard’s hydrogen technology.

Ballard also announced a partnership on Monday with Canadian auto parts manufacturer Linamar (LNR.Canada) for the development of fuel cell powertrains for class 1 and 2 vehicles. Those vehicles are typically passenger cars. A Class 8 vehicle is a heavy duty truck towing a trailer on the highway.

Linamar shares rose 0.4% in Monday trading. Ballard stock fell 7.4% ahead of earnings.

Write to allen.root@dowjones.com