Has Gevo whipped its problems, and whipped them good?
When last we took an in-depth look at Gevo, (NASD:GEVO) the company was beset by a swarm of motions, cross-motions and lawsuits in its long-running patent infringement drama, co-starring Butamax, “Bio’s Montagues and Capulets get it on, and on, and on“.
At the same time, Gevo had been forced by low yields induced by higher-than-desired levels of bacterial contamination in tis fermenters to switch back from isobutanol to ethanol production. Then, as the US drought caused corn prices to soar into the $8 range, Gevo all-but-halted production entirely as it improved its isobutanol process, shored up its cash position, and dealt with litigation.
The perfect storm of poor conditions in feedstock costs, processing yields and a cloudy picture on the “freedom to operate” front caused a number of investors to declare “there goes the neighborhood” and the stock has eventually run down into the sub-$2 range. Today, the company’s market cap is roughly the cost of acquiring and retrofitting its first commercial facility in Luverne, MN.
That was then, this is now.
The stock has not recovered much — but it’s remarkable the progress the company has made, all the same. Analysts are now expecting the company to bring its first production train up later this month with its improved isobutanol process, and moving towards full production on all four trains by year end.
Meanwhile, on the legal front, a Digest reader writes: “Gevo was very clear on their call last night that they had won on all counts and that Butamax had even greater legal risks. I am sure Dupont disagrees, but the last time Dupo