What a difference a few years make.
Low-profile fuel cell maker Bloom Energy made the first steps toward a public stock offering and few in Delaware seemed to take notice.
The federal filing from the Silicon Valley company offers a glimpse into the company’s finances. The picture is not pretty. Bloom does not anticipate a profit for the foreseeable future.
On the plus side, company sales rose in early 2018 and losses narrowed.
As you might remember the fuel cell maker struck a deal with the state of Delaware for a new factory at the STAR Campus in Newark. It led to a case of buyer’s remorse. So far, employment at the site has remained at a fraction of projections.
As part of the deal to land the plant, Bloom supplies power from its cells to the grid in Delaware.
The issue is the cost of power from “Bloom box” fuel cells to Delmarva customers at a time when electricity rates have been dropping. There are also concerns over hazardous waste generated through the process.
Bloom servers run on natural gas, although fuel costs are not a big part of the equation.
While Delmarva remains one of Bloom’s biggest customers, the company has moved toward filling niches that include data centers and backup power for Fortune 500 facilities that have made green power pledges.
That market is potentially massive. After all, diesel backup generators are noisy and dirty, and companies are eager to tout their green credentials. Many isolated areas of the world could use small-scale generation that could be fueled by landfill gas and related sources.
For now, subsidies, mainly in California have fueled fuel cell sales. In recent years, the company has looked to overseas markets for growth.
Based on information in the filing, the company remains in a tight spot, with less than $100 million in cash on hand. A public offering that has a placeholder value of $100 million would allow some breathing room.
Here’s to a sunnier day. The final newsletter of the week comes tomorrow. – Doug Rainey, publisher.