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Fuel cell maker Ballard Power posts smaller-than-expected loss

April 28 (Reuters) - Canadian fuel cell maker Ballard Power Systems Inc posted a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss, helped by higher revenue from its engineering services and material handling businesses.

Revenue from Ballard's engineering services business, which counts Volkswagen AG among its customers, rose nearly threefold in the first quarter ended March 31.

The business accounted for half of Ballard's total revenue in the quarter.

Ballard said it expected to begin supplying fuel cell stacks to service Plug Power Inc's order with Wal-Mart Stores Inc in the second half of this year.

Plug Power said in February it would supply 1,738 hydrogen fuel cells, used to power forklifts and other material-handling equipment, to Wal-Mart.

Ballard was Plug Power's exclusive supplier of fuel cell stacks in North America and some European countries until Plug Power bought fuel-cell stack maker ReliOn Inc earlier this month.

Ballard's net loss narrowed to $3.8 million, or 3 cents per share, in the first quarter from $7.9 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 13 percent to $14 million.

Analysts on average had expected a loss of 4 cents per share on revenue of $15.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Ballard, whose customers include BAE Systems and Toyota Motor Corp, said in February that it expected revenue to grow about 30 percent this year.

Burnaby, British Columbia-based Ballard acquired fuel cell intellectual property assets of United Technologies Corp earlier this month to benefit from its patent licensing revenue.

Ballard's shares closed at C$4.49 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday. The stock has risen more than 185 percent this year.

(Reporting by Sampad Patnaik and Anannya Pramanick in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

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