The company’s problems have not been overlooked by investors. The company posted a new 52-week low of $1.17 in early October and is hovering around $1.20-$1.25. The shares hit an all-time high of around $25 in mid-2007, but since mid-2008 shares have never gone above about $6.50. Shares traded at a high of $6.35 in early January of this year, but the delay in the federal loan guarantee and the soon-to-expire contracts combined with an EPS loss so far this year of -$0.37 weighs too heavily to bring shares back to anything approaching the January levels.
The answer to a simple question is likely to determine USEC’s future: does the US need its own state-of-the-art uranium enrichment facility, and if so should the government provide the loan guarantee to build it? The debacle with Solyndra and its $535 million loan would be almost small change if the $2 billion USEC loan is approved and then the company folded.
According to The New York Times, the Obama administration is considering a $300 million loan guarantee that would allow the company to prove that its centrifuges work as a pre-condition to the full loan amount to build the plant. But that’s one of those “in for a penny, in for a pound” deals. If the government guarantees even some fraction of the $2 billion, shares in USEC will rebound on the expectation that the rest will be forthcoming at some future date.
Once again, the Great Yogi gets the final word: it ain’t over till it’s over.