Co-authored by Vasil Velev
Hyzon Motors (Nasdaq: HYZN) was one of the hydrogen fuel cell companies that stormed the headlines in 2020 with the promise of revolutionizing the auto industry. It’s clear that things haven’t panned out as expected back then, with the company failing to file its quarterly earnings since Q1 last year. In this analysis we’ll try to dig deeper into the reasons for the Hyzon stock downfall and see if we can uncover any positives that could provide the foundation for a turnaround for the company in 2023.
If you’re interested in other hydrogen stocks you can check out our Top 5 Hydrogen Stocks review, as well as our 85-page Hydrogen Industry Primer, which also contains detailed analyses for five of the biggest hydrogen stocks – Nikola, Ballard, Plug Power, Bloom Energy and FuelCell.
What is Hyzon Motors and Who Owns It?
Hyzon Motors is a hydrogen pure-play mobility company with US operations in the Rochester, Chicago and Detroit areas, and international operations in the Netherlands, Australia, and China. The company’s focus is on commercial vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology. produces zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles with leading fuel cell technology.
It is a spin-off of Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies – a company based in Singapore that has worked on fuel cell development since 2003. Hyzon was separated as a standalone entity in 2020 to speed up the uptake of fuel cell technologies and serve as a new sales channel for Horizon.
It merged with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp. in July 2021 to become a listed company.
For now, Hyzon aims to use Horizon fuel cells to power its series of commercial vehicles. At its core, it is an energy transition company, a technology innovator, and serves the green economy market by delivering hydrogen fuel cell electric heavy-duty trucks, buses, and coaches. It also provides hydrogen supply infrastructure and end-to-end service and maintenance for its vehicles.
The company currently has an interim-CEO after releasing co-founder Craig Knight from the top job and its board of directors in August, 2022. This happened shortly after the company failed to file its financial reports with the SEC for a second consecutive quarter.
Another important change in senior management is the demotion of George Gu from executive to non-executive chairman.
Parker Meeks is in charge of the company at the moment after joining in 2021 as a strategic advisor. He previously worked as President, Infrastructure Sector at TRC Companies Inc. and brings extensive experience spanning the US, Canada and China, something that Hyzon needs for its operations on three continents.
Even after these changes the company hasn’t been able to file its quarterly or annual reports.
Recent Key Developments
Despite the serious challenges faced by the company, it has continued with various expansion and consolidation efforts.
Hyzon recently announced a new partnership that lifted its stock by more than 19% (albeit it temporarily) at the end of December 2022. The company reported that Hyzon Zero Carbon, a subsidiary of Hyzon, entered into an agreement with Chevron New Energies (a division of Chevron) to invest in Raven SR S1 LLC.
The entity is owned by privately held renewable fuels producer Raven SR and will develop, construct, operate and maintain a solid waste-to-hydrogen generation production facility located in Richmond, California. The deal entails that Hyzon will gain 20% stake in LLC for $10 million and Chevron will invest $20 million.
The company also struck a deal to acquire the remaining stake in Hyzon Europe from (former) partners Holthausen. Hyzon acquired $5.84M worth of shares with $4.76M in cash and $1.08M as an obligation for future inventory purchases.
The main news however is another missed filing deadline with the SEC. The inability to establish trustworthy accounting processes and suspected audit issues with partners in China have once again brought the company into disrepute. There are even rumors that the company might exit the Chinese market, but there is no official confirmation. for this.
Hyzon Motors Competitive Advantages
The company does have some competitive advantages, which for a time managed to propel the Hyzon stock upwards. The company focuses solely on hydrogen-powered vehicles that serve the heavy-duty trucking market but also has a broader reach as it includes buses and coaches that aim to mitigate emissions from the diesel transportation sector. Its 20 years of experience developing fuel cells are contributing to the company’s advantage and a leading technology edge.
The company is positioned in a fastly growing market. Hydrogen is more viable than electric vehicle technology for the heavy duty trucking sector and many cities and countries around the world are in the process of switching from diesel-powered to low-emissions transportation.
According to the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility, the commercial FCEV market is expected to grow 34% annually till 2030 to around 10 million vehicles on the roads. Hyzon along with other hydrogen fuel cell tech developers like Tesla, Plug Power and Nikola are gaining popularity and could all gain substantial profits by taking part in the development of this new market.
In purely technical terms the company has some advantages over direct competitors in the fuel cell field. For all types of power density the company’s products outperform competitors such as Ballard Power, PowerCell and automakers Toyota, Hyundai and GM.
Unlike its competitors, Hyzon prefers to partner with third parties for the provision of hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cell stations for customers. In fact, the company is considered “asset light” which means it doesn’t aim to develop all parts for its vehicles or access to hydrogen but instead partners with third parties and uses their established resources.
It only focuses on the core technology of the fuel cell and electric propulsion system. Its business model is in contrast with Tesla’s which is much more capital-intensive and makes every part of the vehicle along with the machines that make the vehicle.
It also develops small hydrogen hubs that are economically viable at low volume to serve the current early state of adoption of hydrogen by its clients. The infrastructure is built up to scale up at stages to accommodate new customers. Such a business model should allow the company to scale faster than competitors who have much greater hydrogen infrastructure development plans.
Hyzon also offers a Repower service. That is an opportunity for its clients to have their standard diesel truck remodeled into a hydrogen fuel cell truck.
Will the Hyzon Stock be Delisted?
Hyzon stock suffered some serious headwinds last year as the company failed to deliver Q2 and Q3 2022 presentations or SEC filing. The company said that providing the statements would take an unreasonable amount of effort and expense and pointed towards issues with accounting and internal control regarding China operations.
The failure to file earnings and the problems in China are red flags for investors and the company’s shares are currently fighting for their life. They have dropped from an all-time high in 2021 at around $20 to a current low of $1.45. The Hyzon stock is deemed at a high risk of performing badly and could appeal at this point to venture capital investors.
Hyzon received a non-compliance notice from Nasdaq following its failure to provide filings for Q2 last year. The company has up to 180 calendar days, or until Feb. 13, 2023, to regain compliance. The markets are also nervous about Hyzon’s cash situation as the cash burn rates now cannot be tracked.
At the beginning of 2022, Hyzon Motors received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which also tanked its shares. The SEC investigation is a result of a shortseller report from Blue Orca Capital that essentially called the company a sham. Hyzon refuted the report but it still resulted in dented credibility and difficulties to attract and retain new customers.
There is also a techincal threshold for trading on the Nasdaq exchange, which automatically delists companies that trade below under $1 for more than 30 days. At the time of writing HYZN shares are trading for $1.45.
As things stand the company is headed towards a delisting, unless it manages to comply with requests from authorities, while simultaneously managing to stop the downtrend in its stock price.
It is important to note that even in the event of a company being delisted, that doesn’t remove shareholders’ ownership.
There is no credible way to interpret the financial performance of the company at this time. At the time of the last available earnings from the first quarter of 2022, Hyzon held cash and equivalents of $407.3 million. This should be enough to see it through the current turbulence, as it had a quarterly cash burn of around $30 million. Still, cash liquidity is of great concern for a company at this stage of its development and with orders arriving from multiple clients.
If the behavior of other hydrogen companies is to be taken as an indicator, more stocks could be issued at the expense of current shareholders. But this would be the path of least resistance for acquiring new capital for what investors hope will be a successful ramp-up of operations.
There are certain benefits and shortcomings when it comes to considering Hyzon stock as an investment. On one side, the hydrogen future holds enormous potential. The technology will keep developing and even though now it has issues with viability and efficiency and is used only as a back-up power to renewables, future innovations might solve them and transform hydrogen technology into a main, reliable source of energy that is capable of addressing the exponentially rising energy demand in a sustainable, clean way.
It serves two sectors – trucking and public transport that are established to be highly competitive with EV technology. Backed by years of technology experience and a reasonable approach to scaling up gradually in a cost-efficient way, it could prove to overcome the current tough economic climate and re-emerge.
On the bearish side, it suffers from a complicated relationship with the SEC, issues to report its earnings in a timely manner, a murky financial situation and a massive crash in the share price. All these problems are not to be underestimated and could mean it might be best to hold buying for (perhaps) the next two years, as they are seen as a make-or-break period for the company’s future trajectory.
Disclosure: I/we have no stock, option or similar derivative position in any of the companies mentioned, and no plans to initiate any such positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Carbon Herald). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.