The state of biofuels and the public markets

Updated: Biofuel and biochemical companies continue to file to go public, and some have actually gone public in 2011. But the reality is that most biochemical and biofuel stocks have suffered this year, and most of them aren’t earning substantial revenues, aren’t profitable and are still producing biofuels and chemicals on a small scale. Here’s the latest on biofuel and biochemical firms’ earnings from last week and current stock prices:

The public companies

Amyris. (s amrs) Amyris is a company that uses genetic engineering to turn biomass into chemicals and fuels, and its first product turns sugarcane syrup into Biofene, a form of the industrial chemical farnesene, which is a fragrant hydrocarbon that’s used to make cosmetics, lubricants and other materials. Amyris held its third quarter earnings on Nov. 1, and announced for the three months ended Sept. 30, 2011 that the company generated $36.28 million in revenue, up from $24.23 million in revenue from the same quarter in 2010. Amyris also announced a net loss of $43.92 million for the third quarter 2011, which was a larger net loss than in the same quarter in 2010, when Amyris lost $20.61 million for the quarter.

As of Monday morning, Amyris is trading under $12 (last time I looked at $11.76), which is a 52-week low according to The Street, and the company’s shares are down 53 percent year-to-date. Amyris priced its IPO in September 2010 at $16 per share, below its anticipated range of $18 to $20 per share.

Gevo. (s gevo) Gevo’s business model is based on converting corn ethanol plants to enable them to turn cellulosic feedstocks like agriculture waste into a bio-based isobutanol, a fuel additive and a precursor to manufacturing plastics and other products. Gevo filed its third quarter earnings report Nov. 1, and reported a quarter revenue of $17.51 million, up from third-quarter revenues in 2010 of $1.50 million. Gevo lost $12.31 million for the 2011 quarter, a smaller loss than the $17.31 million it lost in the third quarter 2010.

As of Monday morning, Gevo is trading at $7.51, down over a three-month period. Gevo went public in February of this year, on a per-share price of $15 — priced at the high end of its range — and raised $95.7 million after offering expenses.

KiOR. (s kior) KiOR’s technology allows it to convert wood chips into a substitute for crude oil. KiOR posted its second earnings statement as a public company last week on Nov. 10. The company reported a net loss of $14.8 million, compared to $10.6 million for the third quarter of 2010 and did not recognize revenue during the third quarter of 2011. The company doesn’t expect to generate revenue until at least mid-2012.

KiOR spent $53.4 million on building its facility in Columbus, and KiOR told shareholders in its latest report that it will start finish building its Columbus, Miss. facility in second half in 2012 and its next facility in Newton, Miss. potentially at the end of 2012. KiOR is currently looking into raising funding for its Newton facility,  and said it will see a bit higher capital costs for its Columbus plant than previously expected.

KiOR is one of the only biofuel/biochemical companies which hasn’t seen a substantial share drop. As of Monday morning, KiOR’s shares were trading at $15.40. KiOR went public this summer and priced its IPO at $15 per share, under its estimated pricing of $19 to $21 per share.

Solazyme. (s szym) Solazyme engineers efficient algal strains and grows its designer algae in fermentation tanks without sunlight by feeding it sugar. Then, using existing industrial equipment, it extracts the oil. The company reported its third quarter earnings last week on Nov. 7, and reported revenues of $8.94 million, up from revenues of $4.63 million. Solazyme reported a net loss of $14.09 million for the quarter, a bigger net loss than the $8.92 million it reported in 2010.

Solazyme’s shares have been down over the three-month period, and as of Monday morning, its shares were trading at $11.16.

Biochemical and biofuel startups that have filed for IPOs:

Image courtesy of eXtension Ag Energy.