Abengoa Q1 results show earnings ups, ethanol production down

By Susanne Retka Schill | May 07, 2013

Abengoa Bioenergy SA reported first quarter revenues of €1.85 billion ($2.42 billion), an increase of 19 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were up 20 percent at €270 million.

First quarter revenues for biofuel production were down 10 percent from the same period a year ago at €406 million. Even though biofuel revenues were down, EBITDA improved from €1 million in first quarter of 2012 to €8 million during the same period of 2013. “This increase was primarily due to slight recovery of the crush spread in Europe and the United States,” the company reported for the quarter. All facilities were in operation as of April 2013.

In other sectors, engineering and construction revenue was up 33 percent at €1.38 billion, solar down 16 percent at €37 million, water desalination up 125 percent at €9 million, transmission up 33 percent at €12 and cogeneration down 33 percent at €10 million. All sectors combined showed a slightly increased margin of 14.6 percent compared to 14.4 percent the previous year, with industrial biofuel production showing a return of 2 percent compared to 0.2 percent in the same quarter a year ago. The Spain-based company reported that fully 81 percent of its revenues come from outside Spain and 52 percent originate from the Americas.

In its report on key operational metrics, the company said its biofuels production was down 21 percent for the first quarter of 2013, at 446 million liters (118 million gallons) as compared to 568 million liters in the same period a year ago. In other sectors, transmission lines were down 62 percent, water desalination up 18 percent, cogeneration up 76 percent and solar power assets up 55 percent.

Abengoa Bioenergy’s quarterly report listed just one biofuel project among several projects under development by the company. The Hugoton, Kan., is listed as a first quarter 2014 startup. Other projects included solar in the U.S., Spain and South Africa, water projects in Algeria, Ghana and Mexico, and cogeneration and transmission projects in South America.

In an April 30 news release, Abengoa Bioenergy reported its Brazil biofuels operation achieved record milling results in 2012 following the expansion of the Sao Luiz facility. Improvements brought the average daily production up to 18,000 tons of cane, representing a 35 percent overall increase. The amount of sugar produced increased 32 percent, ethanol production was up 22 percent to 61,000 cubic meters (152 million gallons) plus 44 percent more electricity was generated. The April 30 report said that with the favorable prospects for the 2013 cane crop, the Sao Luiz facility could achieve a further 20 percent increase in overall production.

In other news releases published during the first quarter, Abengoa announced April 1 that its first demonstration plant using its waste-to-biofuels process had begun operations in Salamanca, Spain. The company also announced it has launched a technology development project for catalytic conversion of ethanol to biobutanol. Also on April 1, Abengoa Bioenergy announced its research activities have achieved the halving of enzymes cost over the past three years, with the expectation that a similar reduction will be achieved with further work. Yield increases of 40 percent have been achieved in the past year.  “The scientific, technical and business developments achieved by Abengoa Bioenergy New Technologies in the field of enzymes allow the company to anticipate achievement, in 2013, of the profitability targets for this stage of the process,” the announcement  said. ABNT is negotiating contracts for the production of yeasts and enzymes in anticipation of the startup of the Abengoa’s first second-generation ethanol plant, Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas.