Biofuels Industry Reacts To The New RVO Requirements

by Jim Lane What a whirlwind weekend after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced their final renewable volume obligations (RVO) under the Renewable Fuel Standard program for 2019. “It’s just numbers,” some say, but oh no, not in the biofuels world. It’s never just numbers. This time it’s about waivers, fixing the damage done, and ensuring a bright future for biofuels. It’s about hollow chocolate bunnies and two steps back for some. French mathematician Rene Descartes is best known for “I think, therefore I am,” but he also said “Perfect numbers, like perfect men, are rare.” So true in this case as not...

Green Plains, Green Profits

by Debra Fiakas CFA Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. (GPRE:  Nasdaq) is one of the few U.S. ethanol producers to turn a consistent profit.  The company is half way through its fifth consecutive profitable year.  Sales in the most recently reported twelve months totaled $3.4 billion, on which the company earned $40.5 million in net income.  During this period Green Plains generated $100.0 million in operating cash flow. Tracing Green Plains profits requires a bit of effort by investors.  The company channels its products through a marketing and distribution division.  Thus while, ethanol production...

Cellulosic Ethanol and Advanced Biofuels Investments

There's much excitement about second generation biofuels made from cellulosic feedstocks and algae, be they cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, biocrude, or electricity from biomass.  There will be winners, but they may not be the technology companies. Tom Konrad, Ph.D., CFA At the 2009 Advanced Biofuels Workshop, there were two major themes: developing new feedstocks, especially algae, and the development of new pathways to take biomass into products such as biocrude, which can be used in exiting oil refineries.   Big Market, Many Competitors The current federal Renewable Fuel Standard requires the use of 36 million gallons of biofuels, including at...

EPA Makes Sorghum an Advanced Biofuel Feedstock

by Debra Fiakas CFA Sorghum Bicolor photo by Matt Lavin    Like the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, the Environmental Protection Agency has waved a wand and given sorghum a new dress and slippers.  Sorghum has been designated as an eligible feedstock under the Renewable Fuels Standards for production of advanced biofuel.  Only biofuels produced from non-corn starch, sugar, or lingo-cellulosic biomass, which reduces carbon intensity by 50% or more from a gasoline baseline, qualify as ‘advanced.’ Sorghum qualifies for advanced fuel status as the result of a 53%...

What I Sold: Pacific Ethanol (NASD:PEIX)

This entry continues a series on companies I sold as part of a portfolio cleanup prompted by the mess on Wall Street.  In the first entry I describe what I plan to do with the cash, and the second was about Carmanah Technologies.   UQM Technologies was one I didn't sell. In May of last year, I took a look at competitive forces in the corn ethanol industry.  While I was rather negative on the industry at the time, when ethanol stocks fell in the summer and fall of 2007, I called the bottom much too soon, and...

Green Plains Bets on Ethanol Recovery

by Debra Fiakas CFA Last week the Chief Executive Officer of Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. (GPRE:  Nasdaq), Todd Becker, revealed during conference calls following its quarter earnings report that the company has been in discussions to sell ethanol to industrial users in Mexico.  It is news that could be music to shareholders ears.  U.S. storage tanks are brim full of ethanol as producers like Green Plains stock pile inventories waiting for better selling prices.  Green Plains has made claims to Mexico sales before, but has never revealed customer names or volumes.  None were named...

Ethanol Sector Consolidation or Salvation?

by Debra Fiakas CFA The drumbeat of deals in the ethanol industry is sounding louder, or so it seems from the proliferation of notices in my e-mail inbox.  I received no less than four messages in one morning from ethanol producer Green Plains, Inc. (GPRE: Nasdaq) heralding the purchase of the Hopewell Ethanol plant in Virginia from FutureFuel, Inc. (FF:  NYSE).  The acquisition represents the ninth transaction for Green Plains in the last five years, adding another 60 million gallons in annual production capacity to Green Plains’ existing total capacity of 1.02 billion gallons.   Indeed, Green...
corn pile

A Simple Fix To Farmer’s Tariff Woes?

by Jim Lane As most know by now, the US and China have fired opening salvos in a trade war, with the US targeting a range of commodities including steel and aluminum, and China retaliating with, to date, stiff tariffs on a range of agricultural products, but primarily hitting soybeans and corn because of the volume of trade in those agricultural goods. Overall, China imports $24 billion of agricultural goods from the US and is a leading export market for the US. The trade wars prompted North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association, to state: “Farmers are...

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...
cattle feeding

More Than Ethanol at Green Plains

Last week ethanol producer Green Plains (GPRE:  Nasdaq) reported financial results for the quarter ending June 2018.   As expected the company reported a net loss, but actual results were far better than expected.  The news gave traders a reason to celebrate with bids that led to a gap higher at the opening on the first day of trading following the announcement.  Cooler heads came into the market as the day wore on and the stock closed below the open on heavy volume. Nonetheless, the stock finished the week higher and appears prepared to challenge lines of volume-related price resistance in the trading sessions ahead.    There may...

Dyadic International (DYAI.PK): Update

Tom Konrad, CFA Representatives of Dyadic International (DYAI.OB) were quite upset when I called the company "A Stock to Avoid."  The company has now released audited financial statements for 2007 and 2008.  The lack of such statements was one of the several reasons I said to avoid the company.  Should I retract my article? Mark Emalfarb, Dyadic International's CEO sent me an email this morning with attached audited financial statements for 2007 and 2008, saying, I hope that you will act responsibly as journalists and publish a retraction to your article "A Stock To Avoid" which Tom...
for and against oil refinery bailouts

Billionaire Bailouts v. Biofuels

Trump in a pickle: support his beleaguered EPA Administrator over oil refinery bailouts, or rally his Midwestern farm-state base? In Washington, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa tweeted: “I’ve supported Pruitt but if he pushes changes to RFS that permanently cut ethanol by billions of gallons he will have broken Trump promise & he should step down & let someone else do the job of implementing Trump agenda if he refuses.” Grassley explicitly called on Pruitt to back a key campaign pledge from 2016 that helped unlock farm state support and propel Trump into the White House. 1/19/16 Trump at IA Renewable fuels summit: EPA...

Earnings Round-Up: ADM, Green Plains, Syngenta

Jim Lane Green Plains In Nebraska, Green Plains (GPRE) announced net income for the quarter was $42.2 million compared to net income of $25.5 million for the same period in 2013. Revenues were $829.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to $712.9 million for the same period in 2013. Net income for the full year was $159.5 million compared to $43.4 million for the same period in 2013. Revenues were $3.2 billion for the full year of 2014 compared to $3.0 billion for the same period in 2013. Fourth quarter 2014 EBITDA was $90.7 million compared to...
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...

Green Star Products to Construct Total Bio-Refineries

Green Star Products Inc (GSPI) announced its plans to construct total Bio-Refinery Complexes for production of both biodiesel and biomass ethanol at each facility. The first Bio-Refinery is planned to be in North Carolina (see GSPI press release dated April 20, 2006) and the location of the second facility is to be announced soon in the northwestern sector of the United States. Each GSPI-designed Bio-Refinery will have a start-up production of between 10 or 20 million gallons per year with quick expansion capabilities. The facility infrastructure will be capable of expanding to 60 million gallons per year...

Are Ethanol Companies Risky Investments?

By Neal Dikeman, Partner, Jane Capital Partners LLC, and Founding Contributor, Cleantechblog.com. He has no investments in or financial incentive related to ethanol or ethanol stocks. Are ethanol stocks risky long-term investments? We think they are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of ethanol blended fuels for a whole host of reasons, I just don’t like ethanol as an investment. Here are six solid reasons to be very, very cautious. 1. Demand vs. supply – As with most regulatory driven markets, the demand has come on very fast behind the advent of renewable...
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