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Plug Power’s Pure Play; Baidu’s Bold Bid; Nio Not Tesla

Plug Power’s Pure Play; Baidu’s Bold Bid; Nio Not Tesla

Plug Power goes gangbusters on Walmart deal expansion. Great Stuff Picks readers are up a whopping 93% in less than three months!

Plugged In & Powered Up!

Can you feel it, Great Ones?

The power emanating from your portfolio today?

What you feel is no joke. It’s the beginnings of greatness itself. The rise of Plug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG)!

I mean, you did buy PLUG back when Great Stuff Picks recommended it on October 23, right? If not, you missed out on today’s 12% rally … not to mention the roughly 93% gain since we bought in. Congratulations!

See? If you miss a day of Great Stuff, you miss a lot.

So, Plug Power went gangbusters today after expanding its relationship with Walmart (NYSE: WMT) — the world’s largest retailer.

Why would Walmart use Plug Power? Simple: effective, easy-to-refuel green energy. There’s no sitting and waiting for batteries to recharge. Simply refuel with hydrogen at the pump, and you’re off.

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, where Amazon is constantly breathing down your neck, you can’t wait for batteries. You hesitate, and you’re dead.

Currently, Plug provides more than 9,500 fuel cell powered vehicles for Walmart’s e-commerce division, mainly material handling trucks, last-mile delivery vehicles and support equipment — the crucial lifeblood of a fast-moving e-commerce unit.

That critical relationship will expand heading into 2021. “This application expansion signifies the next step in our relationship as we support Walmart in their scaling eCommerce business while helping them meet the operational goals important to both Walmart and consumers,” said Andy March, Plug Power CEO.

This deal is huge for Plug Power, as it helps solidify the company as a global leader in hydrogen power solutions.

Worldwide, it has deployed more than 38,000 fuel cell systems — more than any other company. Plug is also the largest liquid hydrogen buyer, plus it built and operates “a hydrogen highway across North America.”

We’re talking about the leading company in what analysts call an $11 trillion hydrogen power market by 2050.

Now, I will say this to all you Great Ones who didn’t buy PLUG back in October: Shame on you.

Seriously, though, if you aren’t already invested in PLUG, you might want to wait for a better opportunity to buy. Chasing a 12% one-day spike is no way to run a portfolio, son.

As with all stocks, there will be bumps in the road for PLUG. However, with the hydrogen revolution poised to grow massively next year, you’re running out of time to get in on the ground floor of the next big movement in clean energy.

And let’s not kid ourselves. Regardless of your opinions on “green” or “clean” energy, the movement has already begun. The market has spoken. Be there or be square.

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Great Stuff Good Better Best

Good: Expectations, Shooby Shattered

Apple told its suppliers that it plans to make 230 million iPhones in 2021 and that they should ramp up production accordingly.

Go ahead, bite the big Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). Don’t mind the … boosted sales forecast?

Love and hope and iPhone dreams are still surviving on the Street. Look at Apple. Expectations shattered.

According to a report in Japan’s Nikkei business newspaper, Apple told its suppliers that it plans to make 230 million iPhones in 2021 and that they should ramp up production accordingly. That’s a 30% increase … over pre-pandemic levels.

After sluggish sales amid the 2020 pandemic, Apple is certainly hungry for success, success, success, success. Does it matter?

Why, yes. Yes, it does, according to Apple bull and Wedbush Analyst Dan Ives. Last week, Ives projected a “clear uptick” in iPhone demand and lifted his price target to $160 with a “bull case” target of $200.

As an Apple skeptic, I have to say that the company’s prospects are looking up despite its lack of innovative new products — that “one more thing,” if you will. New high-end processors. New Fitness+ subscription service. And now, boosted iPhone production.

I think it’s important to remember here that Apple didn’t invent the smartphone, the touchscreen, wireless earbuds or the portable music player. It made them better, prettier and more popular. And the company appears to be doing the same thing in the services industry.

I’m starting to think Dan Ives might not be that crazy after all.

Better: Bai-Vroom

Baidu is weighing its own entry in the EV market.

As if the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) market wasn’t crowded enough…

Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) is weighing its own entry in the EV market, according to the infamous “people familiar with the matter.”

The Chinese internet portal giant is no stranger to the automotive world. Baidu already has self-driving tech deals with Volkswagen, Toyota and Ford.

It also operates an autonomous taxi service — take note, Uber Technologies (NYSE: UBER) — in three major Chinese cities including Beijing.

But, apparently, that’s not enough for Baidu … at least, according to speculation.

The company declined to comment on the rumors, but that didn’t stop speculative investors. It never does.

BIDU jumped nearly 10% on the report, and several Chinese EV makers followed suit on hopes of a tie-up.

Best: Nio Not Tesla

Daiwa Capital Analyst Kelvin Lau issued a bullish recommendation for Nio today.

No, Nio (NYSE: NIO) wasn’t mentioned as a potential Baidu tie-up … but it’s possible, as long as we’re slinging rumors.

Still, that isn’t the reason why NIO vaulted nearly 6% higher in intraday trading today. The real reason is that Daiwa Capital Analyst Kelvin Lau issued a bullish recommendation for Nio today.

According to Lau: “NIO has proven its ability to compete with models from international brands such as Tesla, even at a price point CNY100k higher than for Tesla’s Model 3.”

Furthermore, Lau initiated coverage on NIO with a buy rating and a $59 price target.

But the best bit of Nio news didn’t come from Lau. It came from Jeff Reeves over at MarketWatch.

In a bullish opinion piece on NIO, Reeves notes: “Some investors panned Nio’s recent secondary offering in December as a blatant money grab to capitalize on its skyrocketing share price.”

His reply to these concerns: “So what?”

I agree wholeheartedly. So what? If share offerings bother you … if valuation bothers you … then clearly, you aren’t invested in Tesla either — you know, the company that not only put up three multibillion-dollar share offerings this year but also split its stock.

And, as for Nio not being profitable yet — emphasis on the “yet” — Tesla wasn’t routinely profitable until this year.

Now, I called out Nio on Friday for a potential bearish “head and shoulders” technical formation. That pattern appears to be a bust. Despite Nio’s $2.6 billion offering, buying support held the stock above $40. That is a very bullish signal.

In fact, if you were looking to buy NIO, now might be an excellent time to do so.

Great Stuff Quote of the Week

You ever fall for a bait and switch?

Like when you take a sip from your partner’s drink expecting water and get day-old ginger ale? Or when you bite into a Hot Pocket you thought was cooked and taste desolate cheesy ice cubes instead? Heck, maybe you’re just really bad at predicting a Rick Roll?

Well, like Lucy pulling away Charlie Brown’s football … this is what it’s like to invest in Uber. Or pay for an Uber. Or work for Uber (so I hear).

This week, Proposition 22 goes into effect in California — the legislation that exempts Uber and its gig economy cohorts from offering their workers benefits as full-time employees.

No surprise, Uber, Lyft (Nasdaq: LYFT) and DoorDash (NYSE: DASH) spent over $200 million up to this point trying to get the action passed, lest they be on the hook for those pesky, pesky employee benefits! That’d make Uber et al. have to cut into their already razor-thin margins — the nerve!

Instead, Prop 22 lets gig economy companies offer workers a health care subsidy, cash per booked mile and occupational accident insurance. Yes, it’s a consolation prize, at best, but it’s a step forward nonetheless for employees. And it’s the less-costly of two evils for gig economy companies.

Wait … so how are they even paying for those mini benefits? And where’s my Quote of the Week? Is this the real bait and switch?!

Nay, nay, for today came the long-awaited price hikes that the gig economy gang had held off for so long. Showing up as a generosity-stoking “California Driver Benefits Fee,” Uber already upped prices. DoorDash is “exploring slight percentage increases,” and Lyft didn’t address any pricing questions, period.

Riders are not pleased about the rate hikes (understandably). Workers, even less so. A group that opposed Prop 22 called Gig Workers Rising dug in on the debate:

Uber and other app corporations said time and again during their Prop. 22 campaign that if the measure failed to go through, riders could expect higher rates. Now that Prop. 22 has passed, Uber is announcing that riders will have to shoulder increased costs after all.
Now that Prop. 22 has passed, Uber is announcing that riders will have to shoulder increased costs after all.

A “corporate bait and switch” indeed. Of course, I don’t have a horse in the ride-sharing race like current gig economy employees (whom I’d now like to dub “the Uberers”). But we knew that this move was a long time comin’.

Uber and Lyft couldn’t keep ride prices that low forever. How long do we have until legit taxis make a comeback? If prices rise high enough, these apps would effectively be taxi services … just with the “extra” money going to the corporation and not the driver.

By the way, I do mean regular taxis — not those helicopter taxis of yore that have since left Uber’s to-do list. Those flying cabs were let loose just a day after Uber also bid adieu to the self-driving milieu. Driverless taxis are back off the menu, boys and girls.

Time to buckle up and double down on those boring people-driven taxis, I’m afraid.

Side note: The more Uber evolves (devolves?) into its taxi-replicating form, the less it can crow that “we’re totally a tech company!” I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now.

Great Stuff: I Sense a Rant Coming on…

The last time we asked for your thoughts on DoorDash, Uber and their ilk, we were crushed under a tidal wave of emails — and there was no middle ground in sight in our inbox!

If you haven’t shared your take on the gig economy jig, what’s stopping you?

Drop me a line right this very moment and join in on this little shindig we call “Reader Feedback.” Just two days from now, we stop yapping and let you get snappy. And I’d love to hear what you have to say about these crazy market times, so be sure to write on in!

GreatStuffToday@BanyanHill.com is your place to rant and rave … stock market related or otherwise. We’ll kick off the conversation right now:

  • What do you think about ride-sharing apps raising their prices? And did you see this coming a mile away?
  • Have you used ride-sharing services at all during the pandemic? What are your thoughts on Uber-ing to begin with?
  • Have you invested in Plug Power? What about Nio?
  • Is valuation dead? Or do you think the Airbnb and DoorDash IPOs are just the latest in a string of ludicrous logic-defying listings?

We’ll catch you tomorrow, but don’t forget to follow us on social media too: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Until next time, stay Great!

Joseph Hargett

Editor, Great Stuff

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