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Investment spurs new orders for Plug Power

Latham fuel cell manufacturer Plug Power experienced a drop in revenue and expenses in the second quarter of the year compared to the same time last year.

One highlight of the three-month period was a renewed interest in the business by customers, according to company officials. They believe it was spurred by the May announcement of a $6.5 million investment by French industrial gas manufacturer Air Liquide, since $6.1 million of their $7.5 million in new orders last quarter happened after the investment was announced.

"What is most encouraging about this quarter's sales is realizing the business coming from long-time customers who are both growing their fleets in existing installations and expanding to new facilities," said Plug Power CEO Andy March in a news release. "This, plus our recent investment from Air Liquide, are proof points to prospects that GenDrive fuel cells are a superior alternative to lead-acid batteries. From an execution perspective, I'm pleased with the progress we're making toward meeting the targets we've set for revenue and for managing our operational costs."

Preliminary estimates of the fuel cell maker's second quarter financials show that total revenue was $7.5 million, down from $7.7 million one year ago. This consisted of $7.1 million in product and service revenue and $400,000 in research and development contract revenue. Both of these revenue sources fell from last year, from $7.2 million and $500,000, respectively.

But company expenses also fell — with research and development expenses for the second quarter at $800,000 compared to $1.6 million last year. Selling, general and administrative expenses were $3.2 million compared to $3.6 million last year.

Even though Air Liquide's investment spurred a significant number of orders, the number of GenDrive units shipped fell from 388 in the second quarter of 2012 to 246 last quarter. Plug Power's GenDrive product line is an alternative to lead-acid batteries for industrial vehicles like fork lifts.

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