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.) ...

Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. Announces Commencement of Construction of Its 50 Million...

Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. (GPRE) announced that its project in Shenandoah, Iowa is progressing as planned. The Company received its air permit from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources late last week. Fagen Inc. has set up their on-site construction offices and anticipates construction of the plant to begin early next week. The Company anticipates that the Shenandoah plant will begin producing ethanol in the Spring of 2007.

Pacific Ethanol Completes Permitting for Planned Ethanol Plant in Boardman, Oregon

Pacific Ethanol, Inc. (PEIX) announced that it has received all necessary permits to begin construction on a 35 million gallon per year ethanol facility at the Port of Morrow, located on the Columbia River near Boardman, Oregon. The Company further stated that it expects to begin construction, which should take approximately 12 months, within the next thirty days. The Oregon ethanol facility will provide ethanol for the Pacific Northwest gasoline markets, helping to increase supply in that area and provide a CO2-reducing fuel for the transportation sector. It is expected that the plant's distillers grains will be sold...

Solar Headwinds, Part I

How Solar PV is like Ethanol Tom Konrad, CFA High levels of competition in the the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry mean that buy-and-hold investors should look elsewhere. In May 2007, I published a competitive analysis of the corn Ethanol industry based on Michael Porter's classic Five Competitive Forces model.  At the time, Ethanol stocks were flying high, but my conclusion was that "the prospective ethanol investor should be very careful about investing in corn ethanol producers at random."  If anything, I understated the case. This chart shows three ethanol stocks that have survived since 2007.  As...

The Future of Alternative Fuels: Ethanol

Besides a slew of clean car announcements connected to the North American International Auto Show, the alt energy topic that has made media and blog headlines most often over the past week has been alternative fuels. We are thus going to run a 2-part series on alternative fuels this week as follows: ethanol today and coal-to-liquids tomorrow. ETHANOL: INVESTOR FRIEND OR FOE? I’m going to start this post with a statement of opinion: I don’t really like corn-based ethanol (as an investment), I never have, and, as a result, I haven’t followed this space as closely as...

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...

Cosan: No Haven for Ethanol Investors

by Debra Fiakas CFA The stark reality of basing their business model on a food commodity has been brought into sharp focus for ethanol producers.  The drought settling across the U.S. corn crop is helping drive up corn prices for hog producers, chicken farms and ethanol plants alike.  Investors who simply must have a position in ethanol might think the sugarcane-based ethanol producers could offer a safe haven against the supply and margin squeeze that is certain to hobble GreenPlains Renewable Energy (GPRE:  Nasdaq), Pacific Ethanol (PEIX:  Nasdaq) and Poet (private), among others relying on corn feedstock....

ADM to build 275-million gallon ethanol facility

Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) said it will build an ethanol plant with 275-million gallon annual capacity in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as it looks to expand production of the alternative fuel. The expansion comes on top of ADM's plans to build a 275-million ethanol plant in Columbus, Nebraska.

New York, New York!

While New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg was busy unveiling a package of measures aimed at making NYC green (including reducing CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030), the state's Governor, Eliot Spitzer, was making his reservations about corn ethanol known, as reported in the Globe & Mail. This adds yet one more (powerful) voice to the chorus of those skeptical about the viability of the corn ethanol industry. The article also notes that Dr. Dan Kammen, an influential Berkeley academic and advisor on climate change to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is also among those who doubt that corn...
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