Darling Ingredients: At the Margin

by Debra Fiakas CFA This week Darling Ingredients (DAR:  NYSE) reported earnings of $100,000 on net sales of $874.7 million in the first quarter ending March 2015.  Darling is a recycler of sorts, collecting by-products of the food production industry and recycling the left-overs and waste into proteins, fats and leathers.  Nothing goes to waste.  Every last chicken feather, hide, gallon of used cooking grease and cake crumb gets up-cycled to a usable material for feed, food, fuel or clothing.  Its customers include pet food producers, personal care manufacturers and textile users, among others. Darling used...

FutureFuel’s Future

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week the president of renewable chemicals producer FutureFuel Corporation (FF:  NYSE) turned in his resignation.  Lee Mikles is around sixty and seems a bit young for retirement.  He had been with the company from day one and served as the chief executive officer through the end of 2012.  He owns 2.3 million shares of FutureFuel stock or about 5% of the outstanding shares.  Maybe Mikles is just looking for a better paycheck.  The last time the company disclosed compensation, Mikles was down for $36,000 in compensation as a director.  Along with...

REG Buying European Biodiesel From Used Cooking Oil Producer

Jim Lane US biodiesel leader heads for the EU – what’s up with used cooking oil, and what is REG’s path forward with the German-based biodiesel producer? In Iowa, Renewable Energy Group and IC Green Energy announced that REG will acquire ICG’s majority equity ownership position in German biodiesel producer Petrotec AG (XETRA: PT8). Closing of the transaction is expected before year end. REG CEO Dan Oh Last month, REG CEO Dan Oh told The Digest, “We’re not done growing, that’s for sure! We’ve done something of...

Biodiesel Christmas Caroling: FFA La La

Jim Lane “On the way” forever, talked up by all, deployed by some – technologies that handle high free fatty acid feedstocks like used cooking oil are coming into their hey-day, via players like REG, Novozymes, Pacific Biodiesel, Blue Sun, Piedmont, COMAC and more. Christmas come early for advanced biofuels? One of the most alluring targets in advanced biofuels although cruelly mis-named is in the world of free fatty acids. Most of the oils currently used for biodiesel are sourced from soybeans, palm or rapeseed, and precisely because they contain less than 0.5%...

Interview With Dan Oh, CEO Of Renewable Energy Group

Jim Lane Leading a series this week, “The Strategics Speak", in which we’ll look at what a number of major strategic investors see in the landscape relating to industrial, energy and agricultural investment, Biofuels Digest visited with Dan Oh, CEO of Renewable Energy Group (REGI), which has long been the US’s leading independent biodiesel producer but in recent years has steadily diversified and expanded operations. In many ways, REG is the entire industrial biotech business in a nutshelll. They’re fermentation (through REG Life Sciences), and thermocatalytic (through REG Geismar and their extensive biodiesel business). They use both...

FutureFuel, Present Buying Opportunity

Tom Konrad CFA FutureFuel Corp. (NYSE:FF) manufactures chemicals, biofuels (mostly biodiesel), and other biobased products.  About 60% of revenues have historically come from the Chemicals unit, with the balance of 40% coming from the Biodiesel unit. Both units saw sharp declines in revenues over the last two quarters for reasons that seem likely to be temporary (at least in part.)  The stock has sold off sharply as a result, falling from the $18-$21 range this spring to its $12 recent price Biodiesel The entire biodiesel industry has been suffering from the expiration of the biodiesel blender's tax...

Future Fuel’s Enticing Earnings

by Debra Fiakas CFA Who doesn’t like a bargain?  FutureFuel Corporation (FF:  NYSE) is trading near $13.15 per share, below nine times net earnings.  Yet, the enticing earnings multiple might be only part of the story. The stock has gapped down in price twice in the last six months, trailing off after each leg down.  The stock now appears oversold. Based in Missouri, FutureFuel produces biodiesel and biobased speciality chemical products.  In the twelve months ending June 2014, the company reported $396.9 million in sales, providing $53.5 million in net income or $1.52 per share. ...

REG Sells More Biodiesel, Earnings Drop, Acquisitions Are Future Wild Cards

Jim Lane Biodiesel giant Renewable Energy Group (REGI)  is up on gallons, down on dollars as market prices weigh on results. In Iowa, REG announced net income of $10.8 million for the second quarter on revenues of $332.9M, a drop from its Q2 2013 net income of $19.6 million, and a 13% drop in revenue despite an 11% lift in gallons produced. The company noted that net income was boosted by a tax benefit of $11.9 million, recognized primarily from the release of a valuation allowance resulting from recording deferred tax liabilities related to the...

Green Diesel At Scale

Jim Lane A now-complete 142 million gallon green diesel monster project will easily deliver big on renewable energy targets and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. But it also offers a material path to profits for its parents, Valero Energy and Darling International. In Louisiana, Darling International (DAR) announced that Diamond Green Diesel, the joint venture between Valero (VLO) subsidiary Diamond Alternative Energy LLC and Darling International , has reached mechanical completion and the startup process will lead to full production of renewable diesel. Once in full operations, the 9,300 barrel-per-day (142.5 million gallon) plant in Norco,...

Biodiesel’s Big Comeback

Jim Lane Filling up with Biodiesel in 2007.  Photo source: Tom Konrad Darling of the mid-2000s, still beloved by its many fans biodiesel is increasingly a key to delivering advanced biofuels volumes now and even more so between now and 2022. Presentations by NBB CEO Joe Jobe and REG CEO Daniel Oh at ABLC 2013 explained the how and why. In the excitement over cellulosic biofuels and drop-ins, it is easy to forget that the backbone of advanced biofuels in the US and around he...

Renewable Energy Group Profits Exceed Subsidies

by Debra Fiakas CFA Earlier this month biodiesel producer Renewable Energy Group, Inc. (REGI:  Nasdaq) reported a tidy profit of $22.3 million on record $1.0 billion in total sales.  Reported net income was $43.5 million, including accounting treatments for corporate recapitalization undertaken in the year.  Results from 2012 were noteworthy on a couple of counts.  It was the first time in the company’s ten-year history (including years of operation among predecessor firms) that sales exceeded $1.0 billion.  REGI produced 188 million gallons of biodiesel from a variety of feedstock, including non-edible corn oil, used...

Soladiesel Algae Fuel is a Monster Hit

Jim Lane Sales increase 35 percent at participating test sites and survey results reveal driver preference for algae-based Soladiesel over conventional fuels. In California, Propel Fuels and Solazyme (SZYM) announced that sales grew by 35 percent at Propel stations, offering SoladieselBD in a B20 blend during a 30-day retail pilot program, compared to non-test sites. The pilot was conducted at Propel’s Clean Fuel Points in Redwood City, San Jose, Berkeley, and Oakland. In addition, a follow-on consumer preference study with Propel’s customers found 92 percent of participants noted that they would be more likely to...

Biobased and Biofuel Investments: A System

Jim Lane A Biofuels and Biobased investment primer: An 18-combination, 8-character system for classifying bio investments Here’s our investment primer on how to size up the risks and the rewards and tune them to meet your goals. And, a system for organizing opportunities. So, you’re thinking about investing in bio? Here’s the good news – you’re not alone. Here’s the bad news – you’re not alone. There are retail, private equity, hedge fund, sovereign wealth, strategic, grower, VC and institutional investors snooping around too, and making active investments. For one thing, carbon’s making a comeback as the...

Solazyme’s Oilcane Boom

Jim Lane Though building capacity globally, Solazyme’s operations in Brazil are getting traction fast – and raised $235M last week. How much oil could be produced in Brazil via sugar-munching microalgae? Today, the Digest looks at Solazyme’s (SZYM) progress and the bigger picture. In California, two monster announcements came out of Solazyme headquarters last week. One related to project finance and one related to raising cash. In midweek, Solazyme Bunge (BG) Renewable Oils received approval for project financing in the form of a $120M (R$245.6M) loan from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES). ...

Methes: The McDonald’s of Biofuel

by Debra Fiakas CFA   Few would make the connection, so Methes Energies International (MEIL: Nasdaq) chief executive office explains his company’s unusual business model in McDonald’s terms.  Methes, which is a contraction of ‘methyl ester,’ has developed a biodiesel system that accommodates various feedstocks that yield methyl esters.  The system is a handsome, compact configuration of stainless steel tanks and piping that are all capable of automated operation. The company operates its own commercial-scale facilities in Ontario, Canada.  Sales of biodiesel represent the majority of Methes revenue, which totaled $10.3 million in the twelve months ending...

Amyris hits the comeback trail

Jim Lane Biofene production starts up in Paraiso, Brazil – sales expected to commence in Q1 2013 – Total, Temasek, Biolding inject fresh capital. What’s next for biofuels’ “Comeback Kid”? By now, most of the “smart set” that found itself excited about Amyris (AMRS), and about advanced synthetic biofuels during the IPO fever, have moved on. They read Dan Grushkin’s “The Rise And Fall Of The Company That Was Going To Have Us All Using Biofuels” in Fast Company, wrote off Amyris and possibly the entire sector, and presumably migrated their enthusiasm to low-cost natural gas, battery...