BioFuel Energy reports Q2 losses, focuses on yield improvements

By Susanne Retka Schill | August 16, 2011

Publicly traded BioFuel Energy Corp. reported losses in its second quarter financial report Friday, Aug. 11, while highlighting the company’s improved performance. Scott Pearce, president and CEO, said in a conference call the company is seeing significant improvements with a 30 percent reduction in net loss, even though the second quarter was still in the negative column.

For the quarter ended June 30, the net loss was $8.3 million on revenues of $168.5 million, compared with a net loss of $12 million on revenues of $96.4 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2010. For this year’s quarter, the net loss attributable to common stockholders was $7 million, or 7 cents per share, compared to a net loss attributable to common stockholders of $9.4 million, or 37 cents per share for the same period in 2010. Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kelly Maguire noted in his rundown of the financials that the quarter’s loss nearly matched depreciation expense. A $6.7 million improvement in controllable costs over the same period a year earlier was offset by a $1.7 million increase in crush margin losses.

The company’s operating loss for the second quarter was $6.3 million, which resulted from $172.3 million in cost of goods sold, including $142.4 million for corn, and $2.5 million in general and administrative expenses. For the same period of 2010, the operating loss was $9.4 million, which resulted from $102.6 million in cost of goods sold, including $70.3 million for corn, and $3.2 million in general and administrative expenses.

“As anticipated, this was a challenging quarter with the industry experiencing narrow commodity margins,” Pearce said. “However, since mid-June, commodity margins have improved, which we believe is due to an uptick in demand from the summer driving season and several macroeconomic factors. Operationally we remain on track with several planned improvements, the most significant being implementing corn oil extraction at our plants.”

The company, which operates two 115 MMgy plants, Pioneer Trail Energy Corp. at Wood River, Neb., and Buffalo Lake Energy Corp. at Fairmont, Minn., has improved its yield performance since the first of the year and  expects to see another 1 percent improvement when further front-end improvements are implemented during the fall shutdown. “We’re on track to further optimize our distillers grains,” Pearce added. “For each added $5 per ton we realize in coproduct prices we see 1 penny per gallon improvement in revenues.” The company recently executed a new distillers marketing agreement with Gavilon LLC and by the end of year expects to complete installation of Greenshift Corp.’s oil extraction technology, both of which are expected to improve coproduct revenues.

Pearce also addressed industry developments in the investor call. He pointed out that while the USDA drastically dropped its projections for new crop corn production, it also reduced demand resulting in a relatively flat projection for corn carryout. On the ethanol side, the latest weekly U.S. DOE Energy Information Agency report shows a continued downward trend for ethanol stocks. “The main risk is the economy,” he said, adding that BioFuel Energy agrees with “what most in the industry have been saying [the loss of the tax credit] is not going to have an impact on markets going forward. If you look at the June and July fireworks around potentially terminating the tax credit in July, the market had no change at all.”