The BioEconomy Earnings Season Roundup: REGI, GPRE, BIOA, ADM

Jim Lane Q1 earnings season for the advanced bioeconomy kicked off this week, with reporting from Green Plains, ADM, REG, and BioAmber. That’s an ag giant, an ethanol monster, a biomass-based diesel dominator and a fast-upcoming renewable chemicals maker. Between the four, we have a good opportunity to check the sector’s health. Overall, markets were unhappy today, knocking down BioAmber 10 percent, while Green Plans took a 6 percent tumble, and REG and ADM were both down, though by lesser amounts. The oil price environment, not pretty today, provided most of that shareholder joy. The Digest’s Take Ethanol,...

Ethanol Producers Vs. California Air Resources Board

by Debra Fiakas CFA Sometime back Poet, LLC, the private producer of ethanol based in Sioux Falls, SD (my home state), filed a lawsuit against the State of California, strenuously objecting to rules related to ‘carbon intensity’ adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) When the dust settled, the California rules were still standing and Poet skulked off to the appeals court.  The appeal was filed this week in the California’s Fifth Appellate District in Fresno. Originally approved in 2009, California’s ‘low carbon fuel standard’ (LCFS) is aimed at sorting apples and oranges in the renewable...

Gevo Switches Refinery Back to Ethanol: Amyris Redux?

Jim Lane Amyris redux, or fiscal caution in the ramp-up process? We look at the data, as the advanced isobutanol pioneer switches Luverne from isobutanol to ethanol amidst production shortfalls. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) announced that, while making significant progress towards economic production levels, the company does not now expect to achieve its desired year-end run rate – instead it has delayed hitting that target into 2013. “While we have made significant progress towards economic production levels,” said Gevo CEO Pat Gruber, “we have decided to optimize certain specific parts of our technology to further enhance bio-isobutanol...

ADM Selects Columbus, Nebraska as First Location for Ethanol Expansion

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) announced that it has selected Columbus, Nebraska as the first location for its ethanol capacity expansion. The Company will build a dry corn milling plant with an initial annual capacity of 275 million gallons adjacent to the existing ethanol plant in Columbus. In September, ADM previously announced that it planned to expand ethanol capacity by 500 million gallons through the addition of two dry milling plants at existing ADM ethanol facilities. Construction, expected to be complete in early 2008, is subject to applicable governmental approvals.

The Ethanol Industry’s Persecution Complex

If the Ethanol industry is going to rehabilitate its image, it needs to understand the issues. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA In his opening remarks at the 25th annual, 2009 Fuel Ethanol Workshop, Mike Bryan, the CEO of BBI International called on the attendees to "Take back control of the industry's image."   It's no secret that the ethanol industry is having problems, mostly, in my mind, due to a classic commodity squeeze: the industry has no pricing power either for its inputs (corn and natural gas,) or its products (ethanol, with a price which closely tracks gasoline.) ...

Solazyme Crosses the Rubicon

Jim Lane Next-gen renewable oils producer achieves first linear scale-up to 500,000 liter fermenters clears path for large commercial production volumes. In biofuels, the “ethanol blend wall” gets a tremendous amount of attention. This is the restriction on ethanol blending in gasoline to (today) 10 percent. It limits overall US ethanol distribution, and vexes ethanol producers and corn growers. But that’s only the second most critical wall. Over in advanced biofuels which are expected to provide 21 billion of the 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel targeted in the Renewable Fuel Standard by 2022 ...

Cellulosic Electricity: Stock Analysts v. Venture Capitalists

Romm v. Kholsa In a persuasive series of articles, entitled "Pragmatists vs. Environmentalists" (Parts I, II, and III) on Gristmill, Vinod Khosla provides the reasoning behind his "dissing" of plug-in hybrids, which drew the ire of Joeseph Romm.  Neither seems to think the argument is settled, and Joeseph Romm returns fire here. As someone who knows as much about investing as Joe Romm and has written as much about Climate Change and Energy Policy as Vinod Khosla, I feel the need to jump into the debate and settle the matter.  (Will either of them will notice?)...
ADM HQ

ADM Separates Ethanol Business

Prelude to a spin-off? by Jim Lane The Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) is breaking news of breaking off their ethanol unit…and a tumbling 40% decline in profit. In Chicago, Archer Daniels Midland Company reported their financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2019, but most interesting to us, they are looking at separating their ethanol business with the option of spinning it off completely. They are also taking other actions to restructure and deal with challenges they say include weather issues and trade pressures. ADM announced a “series of measures to continue to underpin long-term-value creation” which included: “First, to meet growing customer...

What A Portfolio Approach To Climate Policy Means for Your Stock Portfolio

Portfolio theory can lend insights into which carbon abatement strategies policymakers should pursue.  If policymakers listen, what will it mean for green investors? Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA Good Info, Not Enough Analysis I've now read most of my review copy of Investment Opportunities for a Low Carbon World.  The quality of the information is generally excellent, as Charles has described in his reviews of the Wind and Solar and Efficiency and Geothermal chapters.  As a resource on the state of Cleantech industries, it's generally excellent.  As an investing resource, however, it leaves something to be desired.  Each chapter is written...

Brew-ha-ha: Is Amyris’ Brazillian JV Over?

Jim Lane In a Brazilian securities filing, with respect to the Joint Venture between São Martinho and Amyris (AMRS), Sao Martinho reports “the non-achievement of certain contractual targets by Amyris, impacting the viability of the project. Thus, Sao Martinho decides not to approve the continuation of the Joint Venture Plant construction with the US company Amyris Inc. and its Brazilian subsidiary Amyris Brazil Ltda.” The company did not elaborate as to which contractural targets were not achieved by Amyris. In the filing, Sao Martinho added: “Amyris may provide new information regarding the project feasibility in...

Gevo marching: GEVOgraphy expands to Malaysia; advantaGEVOus ruling in Butamax case

Jim Lane Gevo signs agreement for cellulosic biomass development in Malaysia, as the company secures a crucial win in preliminary injunction battle with Butamax over IP. In Colorado, Gevo (GEVO) signed a collaborative agreement with the intent to site a cellulosic biomass isobutanol facility in Southeast Asia, with the Malaysian government’s East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), Malaysian Biotechnology Corp (BiotechCorp) and the State Government of Terengganu. The company is in the final stages of evaluating additional partners to complete the biomass to isobutanol value chain. The collaboration offers a diversified feedstock, organized approach and the opportunity...
Steve Hartiq

North American Outlook on Biofuels Challenges and Opportunities

Challenges and Opportunities in Biofuels By Steve Hartig, Former VP of Technology Development at ICM The North American biofuels market can be split into three main segments all of which have major dynamics.  What I would like to do is give a high-level overview of what I see as some of both the challenges and opportunities across these. Ethanol which is a produced from corn and sorghum in about 200 plants mainly across the Midwest and blended at about 10% with gas.  Majors such as POET, Green Plains, Flint Hills, Valero, ADM and Cargill do a bit more than half of the 16...

Big Biofuel Balance Sheets: A Stampede of Elephants

Jim Lane Elephant herd running photo via Bigstock 28 big balance sheets deploying capital into commercial-scale advanced biofuels. Who’s writing the checks, and for what, and when? It’s become an article of faith among the unenlightened that advanced biofuels are always five years away, and the chief investors are the US Department of Energy and a gaggle of key Obama campaign donors. The Wall Street Journal, last December, opined: “Congress subsidized a product that didn’t exist, mandated its purchase though it still didn’t exist,...

Honeywell’s UOP: a 5-Minute Guide

Jim Lane Based in: Illinois Business: Honeywell’s UOP has developed a renewable jet fuel processing technology, as well as a joint venture. UOP and Ensyn announced the formation of a new joint venture, dubbed Envergent Technologies, that will market technologies and equipment for generating power, transportation fuel and heating oil from biomass using pyrolysis. The joint venture will utilize forest and agriculture residues as feedstocks in a Rapid Thermal process, where feedstocks are heated in the absence of oxygen, to produce pyrolysis oils that can be utilized directly in heating oil or power gen. UOP...

An Insider’s Take on the Ethanol Industry

Biofuels: Panacea or Pandora's Box? Last night, I attended a talk in the Rocky Mountain Institute's "Quest for Solutions" lecture series titled "Biofuels: Panacea or Pandora's Box?"  We were told that a video of the event will soon be up on RMI's website.  Most of us were probably there to hear Amory Lovins speak, and no doubt most of the news coverage of the event will focus on him.  Amory is a visionary as well as an engaging speaker, and Tom Foust of the National Renewable Energy Lab helped shed light on the science of biofuels, but for stock...

Ag Goddess Smiles Favorably on Ceres, Investors Frown

by Debra Fiakas CFA Recently, in compiling our lists of remarkable small-cap stock trades, I was surprised to find the shares of Ceres, Inc. (CERE:  Nasdaq) among stocks setting new 52-week lows.  Ceres has only been trading since its initial public offering in February 2012, when the company sold 5.0 million shares at $13.00 per share.  After a brief trade higher in the early spring, Ceres shares have been steadily losing ground, finally setting an all-time low of $6.02 last week. Named after the Greek Goddess of Agriculture, Ceres is a self-styled energy crop producer.  Ceres...