Saturday, November 22, 2008

VeraSun Energy Requests Permission to Void Corn Contracts

Another reason to abandon the ethanol fiasco!

VeraSun energy has requested permission from a bankruptcy court in Delaware to void contracts with farmers if they give them a 10-day notice.

Friday, November 14, 2008

BioFuel Energy Reports Huge Third Quarter Losses

DENVER, Nov 13, 2008 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- BIOFUEL ENERGY CORP. (BIOF), an ethanol production company, today announced third quarter results. For the three months ended September 30, 2008, revenues totaled $90.5 million. A net loss to common shareholders of $33.1 million or $2.18 a share was recorded. The aggregate loss during the period was $70.6 million, including $50.0 million of losses on corn hedging. In calculating the net loss to common shareholders, $37.5 million in minority interest was eliminated.

Revenues totaled $90.5 million, including $77.5 million of ethanol sales and $13.0 million from distillers grain. An operating loss of $17.0 million was recorded during the quarter. This resulted from $103.8 million in cost of goods sold, including $74.4 million for corn, $11.5 million for natural gas, $2.1 million for denaturant, $2.8 million for electricity, $4.9 million spent on chemicals and enzymes, along with $5.8 million of general operating expense and $2.3 million of depreciation. Finally, $2.5 million of selling, general and administrative expenses and $1.3 million on other operating expenses were incurred. In addition, $1.1 million representing all remaining site development costs associated with prospective plants was written off and that loss was included in operating expenses. During the quarter, the Company had $1.6 million in interest expense and $2.1 million in other non-operating expenses, offset by $100,000 in interest income. In summary, a net loss of $20.6 million before minority interest would have been recorded in the absence of hedging losses.

As previously reported, the sharp decline in corn prices between July 1, 2008 and August 11, 2008 resulted in $46.0 million in realized and unrealized hedging losses as of that date. Once the last of the hedging contracts were terminated in September, the realized loss totaled $39.9 million. Including reversal of $10.1 million of unrealized hedging gains at June 30th, hedging losses in the quarter totaled $50.0 million. As of the date of this release, $17.5 million relating to these losses remain payable to Cargill. The Company is exploring with Cargill how the matter might be resolved.

The Company's plants in Wood River, Nebraska and Fairmont, Minnesota commenced operation in June. Consequently, the third quarter represented the plants' first full quarter of commercial operations. The plants each have an annual nameplate capacity of 115 million gallons of fuel grade ethanol. During the quarter, the plants ran at an average of 62.5% of capacity. In October, 75% of capacity was achieved and average run rates continue to improve. While a number of construction and reliability issues remain challenging, the Company expects to reach full capacity operation by year-end. Cargill supplies the plants' corn requirements and markets their ethanol and distillers grain output.

Through September 30, 2008, a total of $320.4 million had been spent on construction of the Wood River and Fairmont facilities, excluding capitalized interest. Of the total, $272.0 million had been incurred under turnkey construction contracts with TIC. Of this amount, $13.5 million or 5% is being retained until completion. A further $48.4 million has been spent directly by the Company. Based on remaining amounts due TIC and the estimated cost to complete construction being performed by the Company, a further $6 to $8 million is expected to be expended on the plants subsequent to quarter-end.

In the third quarter, the Company borrowed $7.5 million under its construction loan and $10.0 million under its working capital facility. At September 30, 2008, amounts outstanding included $179.5 million drawn under the construction loan, $10.0 million borrowed on the working capital facility and $20.0 million of subordinated debt. Of the $30.5 million still available under the construction loan facility, $13.0 million is reserved to fund a debt service reserve and $13.5 million to pay retainage. At of September 30, 2008, the Company held $19.6 million of cash and equivalents, stockholders' equity totaled $86.7 million and minority interest totaled $30.6 million.

Given the open issues relating to amounts due Cargill, the Company did not make the $767,000 scheduled interest payment on its subordinated debt on September 30th. Because that interest was not paid, the interest rate on the subordinated debt increased from 15% to 17% effective October 1st.

Commenting on the quarter's results, Scott H. Pearce, the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer, said, "We were extremely disappointed with third quarter results. Despite the exceptional decline in the corn market during the period, we should never have allowed the Company to be exposed to that degree of hedging loss. In addition, our operating losses resulted largely from the continuing delay in having our plants up and running at capacity. During the quarter, we made considerable headway, but progress has been much slower than expected. At this stage, we are single mindedly focused on getting the plants commissioned and operating at full capacity on a reliable basis."

Remarking on the production issues at both plants, Daniel J. Simon, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, said, "Despite being well behind our original schedule, our operations teams have made good progress toward reaching reliable commercial production rates at both sites. We hope to reach full capacity by year-end. The largest remaining obstacle is ensuring efficient and consistent operation of the dryers which handle much of our output of distillers grain. Our contractors, vendors, and production staff are all working around the clock to complete a long list of improvements and repairs required to reach our goal. All parties are confident we will reach nameplate capacity by year-end despite continuing obstacles."

The Company plans to host a conference call on Friday, November 14, 2008 beginning at 11:00 a.m. (EST) to discuss the results. To participate, please dial (800) 944-8766. The participant code for the call is 42537. Approximately 90 minutes following the call, a phone playback will be available for 30 days by dialing (866) 281-6782. The access code for the replay is 159564.

This release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Federal securities laws. Such statements are based on management's current expectations, estimates and projections, which are subject to a wide range of uncertainties and business risks. Forward-looking statements should not be read as a guarantee of future performance or results, and will not necessarily be accurate indications of whether, or the times by which, our performance or results may be achieved. Factors that could cause actual results to differ from those anticipated are discussed in our Exchange Act filings and our Annual Report on Form 10-K.
BioFuel Energy currently has two 115 million gallons per year ethanol plants in the Midwestern corn belt. The Company's goal is to become a leading ethanol producer in the United States by acquiring, developing, owning and operating ethanol production facilities.

Contact: Kelly G. Maguire For more information:
Vice President - Finance &
Chief Financial Officer
(303) 640-6500

BioFuel Energy Corp.
(in thousands, except per share amounts)

Three Months Ended Nine Months Ended
Summary Income Statement September 30, September 30,
(unaudited) 2008 2007 2008 2007
Net sales $90,549 $- $90,841 $-
Cost of goods sold 103,765 - 104,021 -
Gross profit (loss) (13,216) - (13,180) -
Selling, general and
administrative expenses:
Compensation expense 1,115 1,395 6,560 4,011
Other 1,353 1,249 8,408 2,558
Other operating expense 1,345 - 1,345 -
Operating loss (17,029) (2,644) (29,493) (6,569)
Interest income 135 855 987 1,068
Interest expense (1,632) - (1,632) -
Other non-operating
expense (2,123) - (1,785) -
Loss on derivative
financial instruments (49,992) - (39,912) -
Loss before minority
interest (70,641) (1,789) (71,835) (5,501)
Minority interest 37,493 821 37,856 4,092
Net loss (33,148) (968) (33,979) (1,409)
Beneficial conversion
charge - - - (1,327)
Net loss to common
shareholders $(33,148) $(968) $(33,979) $(2,736)

Loss per share - basic $(2.18) $(0.06) $(2.23) $(0.30)
Loss per share - diluted $(2.18) $(0.06) $(2.23) $(0.30)

Weighted average shares
Basic 15,210 15,235 15,250 9,069
Diluted (a) 15,210 15,235 15,250 9,069

Additional operational
data (unaudited)
Ethanol sold (gallons, in
thousands) 35,599 35,599
Dry distillers grain sold
(tons, in thousands) 68.7 68.7
Wet distillers grain sold
(tons, in thousands) 83.4 89.9
Average price of ethanol
sold (per gallon) $2.20 $2.20
Average price of dry
distillers grain sold (per
ton) $149.22 $149.22
Average price of wet
distillers grain sold (per
ton) $38.99 $39.63
Average corn cost (per
bushel) $5.36 $5.45

September December
Summary Balance Sheet 30, 31,
(unaudited) 2008 2007

Cash and equivalents $19,641 $55,987
Accounts receivable 18,727 -
Inventories 17,066 -
Prepaid expenses 1,415 194
Other current assets 953 -
Property, plant and
equipment, net 321,491 276,785
Certificates of deposit 4,002 2,155
Debt issuance costs, net 8,205 8,852
Other assets 683 126
Total assets $392,183 $344,099

Total current liabilities $68,627 $24,814
Senior debt, net of
current portion 181,022 102,440
Subordinated debt, net of
current portion 20,000 20,000
Tax financing, net of
current portion 5,121 5,823
Derivative financial
instrument, net of
current portion - 525
Other liabilities 102 27
Total liabilities 274,872 153,629

Minority interest 30,583 68,799
Stockholders' equity 86,728 121,671
Total liabilities and
stockholders' equity $392,183 $344,099

Total shares outstanding
at November 12, 2008 (b) 32,601,204

(a) Diluted shares are not utilized in the GAAP loss per share
calculation as they are anti-dilutive.
(b) Includes common shares and class B common shares, net of 809,606
shares held in treasury.

SOURCE BioFuel Energy Corp.

Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pacific Ethanol Performance Underscores Ethanol Debacle

The performance of Pacific Ethanol (PEIX) in the third quarter underscores the debacle that the ethanol industry is in the United States.

Losses for the company widened by an extraordinary amount, surging to $54.9 million, or 98 cents a share, in contrast to the same quarter last year where losses were at $4.8 million.

This happened while revenue increased to $184 million, up from $118.1 million last year. Analysts were looking for revenue to reach $218.6 million. The 98 cents a share was also far higher than the 16 cents a share analysts expected.

It's time to end government subsidies and end the ethanol fiasco in the U.S. Even with subsidies the industry isn't viable, and saying cellulosic ethanol is the answer is wrong as well, as it costs far more to produce than the corn-based ethanol we're now producing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

SunOpta BioProcess Cellulosic Ethanol Joint Venture Receives $1 Million Minnesota NextGen Grant

MINNETONKA, Minn., Nov 6, 2008 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- SunOpta Inc. (SunOpta or the Company) (STKL) (CA:SOY) today announced that Central Minnesota Cellulosic Ethanol Partners (CMCEP) received notification from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture that it has been awarded an approximately $1 million NextGen matching grant for support of the project entitled "Second Phase Feasibility Study and Detailed Engineering for Commercial 10 Million Gallon Per Year Cellulosic Ethanol Plant." CMCEP is a joint venture between Central MN Ethanol Co-op, Bell Independent Power Corporation (BIPC), and SunOpta BioProcess Inc. (SBI), a subsidiary of SunOpta. Each partner is a one-third owner of the previously announced CMCEP joint venture.

The feasibility study is anticipated to lead to design and construction of the first commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production facility in Minnesota. The proposed facility will be sited adjacent to CMEC's existing 21.5 million gallon starch-to-ethanol plant in Little Falls, MN. Cellulosic ethanol will be produced primarily from wood chips from poplar as well as other cellulose-containing materials utilizing SBI's proprietary fiber preparation and pre-treatment technology. The facility will also provide for co-generation of electricity based on a BIPC-engineered system.

SBI President Murray Burke commented, "We are grateful to Governor Tim Pawlenty and Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson for their foresight in recognizing the tremendous potential for commercial cellulosic ethanol production in the State of Minnesota. Because it uses only inedible plant fibers, cellulosic ethanol offers a viable source of clean, renewable energy with no negative impact on the food supply and pricing. SBI wishes to recognize the State of Minnesota for its support of innovative technologies that have the ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs, enhance rural economic vitality, and reduce dependence on foreign oil."
The NextGen Energy Board was established in 2007 by Governor Pawlenty and the Minnesota Legislature to implement an ambitious program for "Next Generation Energy" in Minnesota. These goals include a target for 25 percent of all Minnesota's energy to be derived from renewable resources by 2025 and the establishment of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 (from a 2005 baseline) with interim reduction milestones for intervening years. The NextGen grant follows a $100,000 matching grant awarded to the CMCEP venture on May 12, 2008 from Minnesota's Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) for initial phase work.

About SunOpta BioProcess Inc. and SunOpta BioProcess USA Inc.

SunOpta BioProcess Inc. is a leader in the design, construction and optimization of biomass conversion process technologies, equipment and facilities. With over 30 years experience in delivering biomass solutions worldwide, SBI combines its applications expertise with innovative, patented, and proprietary technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol, cellulosic butanol, xylitol, and dietary fiber for human consumption. The company is currently designing and supplying equipment and process technology to pilot and commercial demonstration cellulosic ethanol projects worldwide. SBI intends to build, own and/or co-own commercial scale cellulosic ethanol production facilities. SBI operates in Minnesota via its wholly-owned subsidiary SunOpta BioProcess USA Inc., based in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

About SunOpta Inc.

SunOpta Inc. is an operator of high-growth ethical businesses, focusing on integrated business models in the natural and organic food and natural health markets. The Company has three business units: the SunOpta Food Group, with 10 facilities employing over 500 people in Minnesota, specializing in sourcing, processing and distribution of natural and organic food products integrated from seed through packaged products; Opta Minerals Inc. (CA:OPM: news, chart, profile) (66.6% owned by SunOpta), a producer, distributor, and recycler of environmentally-friendly industrial materials; and SunOpta BioProcess Inc. with its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary SunOpta BioProcess USA Inc. which engineers and markets proprietary steam explosion technology systems for the bio-fuel, pulp and food processing industries. Each of these business units has proprietary products and services that give it a solid competitive advantage in its sector.

About Central MN Ethanol Co-op

Central MN Ethanol Co-op (CMEC) is a majority farmer-owned Minnesota cooperative which operates a 21.5 million gallon per year corn starch-to-ethanol plant in Little Falls, Minnesota. The plant is located 30 miles north of St. Cloud and has been in continuous operation since 1999. For more information, visit

About Bell Independent Power Corporation

Bell Independent Power Corp is focused on developing renewable fuel alternatives to traditional gas and electric supplies including expertise in the production of green energy and carbon neutral technologies. BIPC's mission is to be a leader in the energy industry through the acquisition of under-performing energy assets as well as the development of new technologies. These assets and technologies are enhanced through BIPC's research and development programs. In addition, BIPC's in-house expertise to successfully engineer, finance, build, operate, and maintain these development projects result in low cost energy programs for BIPC's customers. The BIPC team has expertise in all stages of the utility industry, including, but not limited to, design, project management, cost control, contracting, budgeting, and management.

Forward-looking Statements

Certain statements included in this press release may constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, references to the expected results related to the future growth and strategies of the business. These forward looking statements are based on certain assumptions and analyses made by the Company in light of its experience and its interpretation of current conditions, historical trends and expected future developments as well as other factors that the Company believes are appropriate in the circumstance.

However, whether actual results and developments will agree with expectations and predications of the Company is subject to many risks and uncertainties including without limitation the expected results related to the joint venture relationships identified above, results of which may be beyond the control of the Company.

Consequently all forward-looking statements made herein are qualified by these cautionary statements and there can be no assurance that the actual results or developments anticipated by the Company will be realized.

This news release was distributed by GlobeNewswire,

SOURCE: SunOpta Inc.
SunOpta Inc.
Jeremy N. Kendall, Chairman
Steve Bromley, President & CEO
John Dietrich, Vice President & CFO
Tony Tavares, Chief Operating Officer
Susan Wiekenkamp, Information Officer
905-455-2528, ext 103

(C) Copyright 2008 GlobeNewswire, Inc. All rights reserved

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

So much for change! Obama to follow same failed ethanol policy as Bush

We now see the first step in change Obama will perform in his new administration, he will keep the failed ethanol policy of President Bush in place. Wait! Change? What's this?

It's politics as usual in Washington, and things aren't going to change in spite of this being the most "important" election in decades.

Obama has already confirmed this through his announcement via his campaign senior energy adviser Heather Zichal, who recently said concerning Obama's policy for ethanol: "Obama recognizes how important the renewable and biofuels industry is to creating jobs and meeting our goal of reducing dependence on foreign oil. He's fully committed to it and sees tremendous value in the renewable fuels standard and continuing down this path."

Yawn. I guess the food riots will continue around the world, and feed prices rise as we continue along this disastrous path.

Even though the idea of cellulosic ethanol was offered up as the eventual future of the biofuel, the truth about it at this time is it costs about twice as much to produce as corn-based ethanol, and it's many years away from being ready for use, if it ever is.

When subsidies and tariffs can't even make an industry succeed, it's far past time to change directions and admit mistakes. To continue to pour billions down this rabbit hole is irresponsible at best.

One major reason for Obama is his home state of Illinois is the second-largest producer of ethanol, and he also was rewarded by Iowa on his presidential run. He wouldn't dare to the right thing by ending this travesty, as he would pay for it in four years.

Business as usual in Washington.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monsanto Acquires Brazil's "Aly Participacoes" Eyeing Sugarcane for Ethanol

With demand for sugarcane starting to outstrip production, Monsanto (MON) has acquired Brazilian-based Aly Participacoes Ltda. in order to work on producing sugarcane seeds that will be much higher-yielding than present stocks.

Of course much of the demand for sugarcane has come about from the fixation of governments on using ethanol as a gas substitute, based on the non-factual idea of "peak oil." There's billions of barrels of oil available throughout the world, and even in the U.S. alone.

Most of this is ideologically driven, rather than based on facts.

While that's a misguided illusion, at the same time that illusion will stick around for some time until all that fails. So in that sense, this is a good investment for Monsanto, as the obsession with ethanol will continue based on unwarranted fears that are driving the fixation.