A mixture of rare earth elements, in which La is comprised from 75 to 90 wt % of rare earth elements, with the balance being Ce, Nd, Pr and other rare earth elements (the mixture being referred to as a highly lanthanum-rich misch metal, and is hereinafter designated Lm), is used to produce a hydrogen absorbing alloy having a composition represented by LmNi.sub.x-A-B Co.sub.A Al.sub.B, Lm.sub.1-x Zr.sub.x Ni.sub.Y-A-B Co.sub.A Al.sub.B, or Lm.sub.1-x Zr.sub.x Ni.sub.Y-A-B-C Co.sub.A Mn.sub.B Al.sub.C. By using these hydrogen absorbing alloys as negative electrode materials, nickel metal hydride secondary batteries can be fabricated that have a large discharge capacity and that also have excellent cycle life and high rate discharge characteristics. Such electrode characteristics that are balanced between the aspects of discharge capacity and cycle life have heretofore been unattainable by either La alone or a misch metal having a relatively low La content or a conventional lanthanum-rich misch metal. The newly developed alloys will not deteriorate in characteristics even if they are stored under adverse conditions for a prolonged time and hence are capable of supplying batteries having consistent quality. The starting material Lm for these alloys is relatively inexpensive and it contains reasonable amounts of Ce, Nd and Pr which are effective in extending the cycle life. This permits the adoption of alloy compositions in which expensive Co is used in a smaller amount. Hence, the alloys have high practical value for use as inexpensive hydrogen absorbing electrode materials.