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Steady sales growth at Plug Power

LATHAM — Plug Power revenue was down in the third quarter compared to last year's third quarter, but the Latham fuel cell maker has every reason to be optimistic about business in the coming months.

The embattled company has seen sales grow steadily since the start of the year, with as many as $14 million worth of orders booked as of Thursday and $26 million in sales since Jan. 1. And in a news release issued this week, Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh told investors he expects to have a "blowout" number of orders in the fourth quarter as the company closes on several multi-site deals in the works and gains new customers.

"The demand for fuel cells in the material handling market has always been robust," he said. "Our customers are expanding their successful deployments — and the word is spreading in the industry. Now that we have a strong balance sheet, that demand is turning into orders."

Bookings have grown in part because of product sales and maintenance orders from big customers like Kroger, Procter & Gamble, Bridgestone, Walmart, BMW, Ace Hardware and Sysco. Plug Power is currently in negotiations with more large potential customers to power forklift truck fleets at their distribution centers. Marsh expects these negotiations to result in closed sales agreements this quarter.

In the third quarter, total revenue at Plug Power was $4.6 million, down from $4.8 million in the third quarter of 2012. Product and service revenue was $4.2 million, down from $4.3 million last year. Research and development contract revenue was $400,000, down from $500,000 last year.

The company shipped 155 units in the third quarter of the year, compared to 186 units shipped in the third quarter of 2012.

Net loss in the third quarter was $16 million, or 19 cents per share, compared to $10.3 million, or 27 cents per share, in the third quarter of 2012.

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