VeraSun (VSE), BioFuel Energy (BIOF): More Corn To The Rescue

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Several recent ethanol IPOs have had a tough time as concerns mount that a lack of corn supply could drive their cost of revenue up. The four companies the represent most of the money taken in from the capital markets recently are BioFuel Energy (BIOF), U.S. BioEnergy (USBE), VeraSun (VSE), and Aventine Renewable Energy (AVR). They may be about to get a hand.

According to CNNMoney, American farmers are ready to grow their biggest corn crop ever, an astonishing 12.8 billion bushels. The ethanol industry will need it. CNN figures say "ethanol production is forecast to double by the end of 2008 to more than 13 billion gallons."

Fear of lack of corn has hammered stock prices. VeraSun hit $30 a bit over a year ago. It now trades at about $14. Shares of the company and its peers have recovered slightly. Part of this is due to a the House of Representatives beginning to amending an energy bill expected to call for greater use of alternative fuels. But, that is could comfort if the cost or materials stays high.

VeraSun’s revenue has been fairly flat for the last three reported quarters, at around about $145 million. But cost of revenue has gone up from $88 million in the September 2006 quarter to $135 million in the March 2007 quarter.

That trend may finally move into reverse.

Douglas A. McIntyre