A (nearly) Pure-play Biodiesel Stock
On January 29th, M~Wave [NASDAQ:MWAV] and private vertically integrated Biodiesel distributor Blue Sun Biodiesel announced a merger between the two, with Blue Sun becoming a division of M~Wave, and the merged company being renamed Blue Sun Holdings. Managerial control will also pass to "certain directors and the officers of SunFuels."
If this merger goes through as planned in the second quarter of 2007, US investors will have their first opportunity to invest in a stock focused on a biofuel which is much less controversial among environmentalists than corn-based ethanol. Estimates of the well-to-wheels Energy Return on Energy Invested (EREoI) for biodiesel range from about 1.93 and up, depending on the feedstock, although few numbers are available. The most commonly quoted EREoI for biodiesel is 3 or 3.2, but I've never found a reputable reference for that, and it will clearly vary widely depending on the oil feedstock, with waste oil being "best."
Speaking of feedstock, Blue Sun is a vertically integrated company with several farmer cooperatives raising oil exclusively for Blue Sun, often using varieties of mustard and canola being developed in-house by Blue Sun, although they have also used soy bought on the open market.
They have their proprietary blend of additives, which allows their Blue Sun Fusion biodiesel to offer superior cold weather performance. I've had several conversations with one of their distributors who uses their B100 in a dual tank diesel pickup, and he has been able to drive on B100 when the temperature is as low as 15 degrees F (-9C) (Unless you, like him are a mechanic who happens to carry around a spare fuel filter in your trunk and a spare tank on your vehicle, I would not recommend trying this... he has also had his fuel filters clog when he pushes the envelope too much... ). I'm no mechanic, and so I stick to B20 except during the summer when the temperature stays comfortably above 40F(+5C).
Their additives, according to a study by the National Renewble Energy Laboratory, allow the usual lower maintenance requirements due to the increase lubricity of biodiesel, and reduction of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulates also seen with most biodiesels, but Blue Sun's blend shows reductions in NOx as well, something that can be a serious issue for biodiesel producers, as we saw when Texas considered banning biodiesel because of increased NOx emissions last fall.
Finally, along with the announcement of the merger with M~Wave, they also announced a partnership with ARES Corporation to build biodiesel production facilities throughout North America, with the first in Clovis, NM. They had previously relied on contract biodiesel production at first tier facilities. Bringing production in house, combined with their own additives, they will have control of the entire biodiesel production and distribution chain (their distributors sign detailed agreements with them on how the biodiesel will be handled all the way to the pump) will likely help them cement their chosen market niche as the high quality biodiesel leader, which will give them a chance to compete with agricultural giants such as ADM and Cargill in the rapidly growing biodiesel marketplace.
Another publicly traded competitor is Earth Biofuels [OTCBB: EBOF], but their main competitive advantage is celebrity endorsement (BioWillie), rather than quality. Of course, investors considering buying MWAV as an early in to this quality biodiesel play should keep in mind that it ain't over til the fat lady sings when it comes to mergers and acquisitions.
Tom Konrad, Ph.D. is an independent investment advisor registered in the state of Colorado who helps people reach their investment goals while protecting the environment.
DISCLOSURE: Tom Konrad and clients hold positions in MWAV, as well as a private equity position in Blue Sun.
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