Ceres releases Q3 results, provides project updates

By Erin Voegele | July 19, 2012

California-based Ceres Inc. recently announced financial results for the third quarter 2012, which ended on May 31. As part of the release, the company also provided an update on its operations, including its business in Brazil.

According to Ceres, ethanol mills in Brazil have now completed their second season of commercial-scale evaluations of its sweet sorghum hybrids. Ceres states that the crops were successfully grown, harvested and processed into ethanol despite severe drought conditions during the growing season.

“Under some very challenging agricultural conditions we outperformed commercial competitors and, at locations where adequate rainfall was available, we demonstrated the economic potential of our products as a season-opening feedstock for biofuel and biopower,” said Richard Hamilton, president and CEO of Ceres. “In the coming season, we plan to expand our portfolio of products with new hybrids from our development pipeline. These new hybrids will fill a late-season harvest window and have demonstrated significantly higher performance than current products.”

In its announcement, Ceres included several business highlights, including the fact that its new sweet sorghum hybrids outperformed commercial varieties in field evaluations performed during Brazil’s 2011-2012 growing season. In addition, the company noted that its two commercial sweet sorghum hybrids out-yielded varieties from commercial competitors in side-by-side comparisons. In addition, although yields and biomass quality were negatively impacted by drought conditions, Ceres said that Brazilian ethanol mills reported continued process in crop performance over the previous season.

The company also reported that it intends to launch up to six new sweet sorghum varieties next season, and has completed field trials necessary to register these new products with the Brazilian government. Ceres Sementes do Brasil will also be working with the Brazilian government’s agricultural research cooperation, Embrapa, to evaluate its leading sweet sorghum variety for use in ethanol. Under the agreement, Ceres noted it has commercialization rights to the variety. Ceres work within the U.S. market is also progressing. The company said it sold or provided seed to more than 12 pilot- or demonstration-scale projects this spring. Finally, Ceres’ improved sweet sorghum hybrids were successfully processed into renewable chemicals by Amyris.

Regarding financial results, Ceres noted that total revenues for the third quarter declined $1.2 million from the $1.6 million recorded for the same period last year. The company attributes this change to decreased activity under its various grants and collaborations.

Research and development expenses for the quarter rose slightly compared to the third quarter 2011, from $5.2 during the third quarter of last year to $5.3 during the same period this year. Ceres attributes the growth to increases in headcount and other resources deployed to support plant breeding activities in Brazil.

A net loss of $8.4 million was reported for the quarter, which equates to 34 cents per share. A net loss of $8.3 million, equating to $4.18 per share was reported for the comparable period of 2012.