Gevo releases 2014 results, reports progress with SBS operations

By Erin Voegele | March 27, 2015

Gevo Inc. has released 2014 financial results, reporting increased revenues when compared to 2013. During the fourth quarter, the company continued to progress with commercial production of isobutanol at its Luverne, Minnesota, plant under side-by-side (SBS) mode of production. In December, Gevo met the milestone of producing more than 50,000 gallons of isobutanol in a month. The company attributed the achievement to the introduction of its second-generation yeast biocatalyst and significant process improvements learned since switching the plant to SBS production earlier in the year.

During an investor call, Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo, called the final three months of 2014 a very good quarter for Gevo. “We achieved a lot on the isobutanol front, met meaningful production milestones at the plant, and have now established a great position from which to really accelerate our licensing program,” he said.

Gruber also noted that while the 50,000 gallon per month benchmark was met during the fourth quarter, production at that volume is still too low to allow the plant to profitably run isobutanol production. In order to expand the isobutanol volumes, Gruber said the company will need to add some capital equipment to debottleneck the plant. He also noted that in the near-term, he believes there are several better uses for that capital, including defending the plant’s freedom to operate and developing the company’s licensing business. However, he added that in the future he does expect to expand isobutanol capacity at Luverne, noting that the company is in discussions with certain strategic partners who may be willing to fund that expansion.

While the production of isobutanol at Luverne is not currently profitable, the company said data generated at the Luverne plant and its labs in Denver continues to support ultimate, optimized isobutanol production costs that would support EBITDA margins for isobutanol of 50 cents to $1 per gallon. Gevo indicated due diligence conducted by Praj at the Luverne plant confirms those projections. As a result, Praj recently signed a memorandum of understanding under which Praj will undertake to license up to 250 million gallons of isobutanol capacity for sugar-based ethanol plants over the next decade. Gevo has also previously signed letters of intent for the licensing of its isobutanol technology with Florida-based Highland EnviroFuels, Canada-based IGPC Ethanol Inc., and Argentina-based Porta Hnos S.A.

Gevo also reported that progress is continuing with its hydrocarbon business, noting that demand is strengthening for jet fuel, isooctane and paraxylene derived from isobutanol produced at Luverne. According to Gevo, certain parties have shown interest in offtake agreements for these hydrocarbon products. In addition, the company expects to achieve ASTM and MIL-SPEC certifications for its jet fuel this year, which would help accelerate commercial adoption of its jet fuel in commercial and military markets.

Gevo is also developing a separate technology that aims to convert ethanol into a variety of end products, including propylene and renewable hydrogen. Preliminary technical and economic analyses have shown that the resulting products would be cost-competitive with traditional petrochemical approaches.

During the fourth quarter, Gevo reported revenues of $9.5 million, up from $1.7 million during the same period of the prior year. The increase is primarily attributed to the production and sale of approximately $8.8 million of ethanol and distillers grains following the transition to SBS operations. Hydrocarbon revenues were $500,000 for the quarter. Net loss for the quarter was $11.1 million, down from $17.3 million during the same quarter of 2013.

Revenue for the full year was $28.27 million, up from $8.22 million in 2013. Gevo reported a gross loss of $7.32 million last year, compared to $9.69 the previous year. Loss from operations was $39.78 million in 2014, compared to $55.52 million in 2013. The company reported a net loss of $41.15 million last year, compared to $66.81 million in 2013. The net loss per share attributable to Gevo common stockholders, basic and diluted, was 51 cents, compared to $1.48 in 2013.