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(Figures in U.S. dollars unless noted)
OTTAWA, March 4 (Reuters) - Ballard Power Systems BLD.TO reported a bigger fourth-quarter loss as it booked writedown and investment losses, and the Canadian fuel-cell maker said it was well positioned for growth despite a tough economy.
Ballard, which recently said near-term profit was "very realistic," is cutting costs and cash burn while chasing big contracts, such as an October supply deal for backup power systems for wireless base stations in India.
Last year, the company sold off its automotive fuel-cell business to focus on markets for forklifts, backup power and residential uses.
Late on Tuesday, Ballard reported a net loss of $18 million, or 22 cents a share, in the period that ended Dec. 31. That compares with a loss of $15.9 million, or 14 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.
Analysts had expected a net loss of 16 cents a share and revenue of $18.99 million, on average, according to Reuters Estimates.
Revenue fell nearly 6 percent to $18.9 million from $20.6 million. Adjusted to exclude automotive engineering, revenue increased 61 percent, Ballard said.
The quarter included a $2.4 million investment loss and a $2.8 million loss on asset disposal and writedown.
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company shipped 802 fuel-cell products in the quarter, up 140 percent over the same period in 2007.
Ballard also said that operating cash consumption fell 31 percent to $8.5 million and it ended the year with $85 million in cash reserves.
"We believe we are well positioned to execute our growth plan, although the challenges are heightened by the macro-economic conditions," Chief Executive John Sheridan said in a statement.
Ballard earned $34 million, or 40 cents a share, for the full year, reversing a loss of $57.3 million, or 50 cents a share, in 2007. ($1=$1.29 Canadian) (Reporting by Susan Taylor, editing by Maureen Bavdek)