Plug Power plans 50 percent revenue increase for 2017

As Plug Power struggles to become profitable and keep its shareholders happy, the company announced it met revenue goals for 2016 because of signing on new, large customers including Carrefour, Europe’s largest big-box store.

The Latham, New York, fuel cell manufacturer had $85.9 million in revenue in 2016. That’s compared to $103.3 million in revenue in 2015. The company ended the year with $46 million of unrestricted cash.

Plug released preliminary revenue numbers today ahead of its full earnings report next month.

CEO Andy Marsh said adding new customers and continuing to cut costs through automation are key to reaching Plug’s revenue goal of $130 million for 2017. That’s a 50 percent increase from this past year.

“In years past, we swung the pendulum to be bullish,” Marsh said during a conference call on Friday. “This year, we are trying to be more conservative in terms of the goals, so we can continue to meet those and exceed those as we go forward.”

The company also recently changed the way it calculates revenue because of new Securities and Exchange Commission recommendations.

After tax credits that help drive Plug Power’s growth were not extended this year, Marsh said the company will hit profitability about a year later than expected. He said the revenue goals for 2017 have taken the lack of tax credits into account.

“We have a head-start on anyone else. We’ve gotten this far because of the investment tax credits. We are continuing to drive down costs and have road maps and plans,” Marsh said. “It will be difficult for a competitor to come into this market without the ITCs.”

The company has been working since it was founded in 1997 to turn a profit. It has been a public company since 1999.

Marsh came to Plug Power in 2008 and overhauled the business plan with a mission to make the company profitable. He’s spent the last nine years converting Plug from a research company that sought out several markets into a manufacturer focused on the materials-handling market.

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