A Good Quarter for Biomass

By Anna Simet | August 29, 2014

I’m sure you’ve noticed the flood of quarterly earnings stories posted on the Biomass Magazine website over the past few weeks. While sitting in on these calls can be a little…we’ll just say “long,” we’re often provided with real answers as to how the company is fairing, score some interesting updates on projects and milestones achieved, and learn about what’s planning for upcoming quarters.

And overall, most have had quite a progressive Q2.

Viridis Energy, for example. During its Aug. 20 financial earnings call, CEO Chris Robertson made a point to emphasize how much better Q2 was compared to the prior (a trucking strike provided some obstacles), and CFO Michelle Rebiere reported Viridis generated $6.6 million in revenue during its second quarter 2014, an increase of 169 percent when compared to Q2 2013 revenue of $2.5 million, and an 18 percent sequential increase from Q1 2014 revenue of $5.6 million.

Abengoa’s biofuels and bioenergy business saw a strong second  quarter in the Americas, Abengoa CEO Manuel Sánchez Ortega said during the company’s first half of 2014 earnings call on Aug. 12. Ortega shared some interesting comparisons of progress in the U.S., Brazil and Europe, updates on its Kansas cellulosic ethanol and biopower plant and shined some light on growth prospects.

Dyadic reported net product-related revenue of $4.9 million for the first half of the year, up 58 percent from $3.8 million reported for the same period of 2013, and CEO Mark Emalfarb spoke about the company’s activities in the biofuel sector.  He noted that Dyadic believes U.S. EPA’s recent qualification of corn kernel fiber as a crop residue under the renewable fuels standard (RFS) has opened up significant potential opportunity for the company’s C1 technology platform.

Austria-based Andritz Group has released financial results for the first half of the year, reporting solid project activity in the biomass pelleting sector. According to the company, orders for biomass pelleting equipment were secured in Latin America, North America, Southeast Asia and Europe. Within its financial report, Andritz highlighted an order from a European customer for a large Andritz BioMax mill with the capacity to produce 12 tons of wood pellets per hour.

During its financial earnings call, Novozymes CEO Peder Nolk Nielson said, “It’s been a good first half for Novozymes. Sales growth was in line with expectations and earnings were strong. For the full year, we maintain our outlook for sales growth, and profit is now expected to come in a little better than what we thought back in April.”   

BioAmber Inc. has released second quarter financial results, reporting that the company’s biobased succinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ontario, is progressing on budget and is expected to be complete in early 2015.  Jean-Francois Huc, CEO of BioAmber, Since BioAmber’s first quarter earnings call, Huc said the company has added six employees to the commissioning and startup team, has set up classrooms in Sarnia, and is engaged in operator training.

During a call to discuss second quarter financial results, John Melo, president and CEO of Amyris Inc., indicated the company is on track to deliver positive operational cash flow during the second half of the year and positive EBITDA in 2015. “We achieved our best operational performance to date at our plant in Brotas during the second quarter, added new collaboration partners in strategic areas and continued progress on building our renewable product sales pipeline,” Melo said. “We remain on track to double our renewable product sales this year against 2013 and deliver positive operational cash flow in the second half of this year.” 

During Rentech’s call, CEO Hunt Ramsbottom reported that the company’s fiber business has grown significantly over the past year, most recently with the addition of New England Wood Pellet. “The integration of that business is going very well. I’m very happy with the team and the acquisition,” he said. “The Fulghum Fibres business unit generated just under $20 million dollars in revenues for the quarter with NEWP contributing nearly $6 million to company ledgers… we are pursuing a number of new projects and acquisition opportunities in the pellet and chipping businesses to complement our existing assets.”  

And just today, in its preclose trading statement, Stobart Group said that it has seen encouraging year-on-year growth in biomass tonnages supplied, a key performance indicator, and that the company expected to deliver strong returns over the medium term. However, company did note that while tonnages supplied are over 50 percent ahead year on year in the period, profit per metric ton overall is lower as margins have been affected by a higher proportion of exported products in readiness for U.K. plants coming on stream, and transport profits are reduced year on year following the ending of a contract in late February.

Not every company in the industry had positive news to share, but I think the examples above foreshadow what will end up being categorized as a progressive year for the industry.

I know it’s hard to believe we’re already thinking about the end of the year and 2015. We’re actually in the throes of planning the November issue of Biomass Magazine, so for us, it’s nearly here.

Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend.