On Thursday, natural gas company Clean Energy Fuels Corporation (CLNE) announced a new program that should excite shareholders and move the stock forward. However, the move came with a marginal 1.2% daily gain during Friday's session. In 2013, shares are up less than 1% and appear poised for a breakout with several catalysts now powering the company forward.
Clean Energy Fuels becomes the first company to "commercially distribute a renewable natural gas vehicle fuel made from waste streams directly to fleets in the United States" through its Redeem natural gas. If you read that description correctly, Clean Energy is taking the waste in landfills, dairy farms, and sewage plants, and turning it into natural gas for your automobile. This environmentally smart and cost conscious move should pay off huge for Clean Energy and provide ample resources to support the company's build-out of natural gas stations across the United States.
The process, which is animated in this video, involves the following process:
1. Capture & extract (collect methane gas from landfills and farms)
2. Process & purify
3. Enters interstate fuel pipeline (distribute across country via natural gas pipeline system)
4. Made available at fueling stations
Redeem created natural gas fuel is cleaner, cost efficient, and renewable. Redeem can be used by any natural gas vehicle and is over $1 cheaper than typical diesel or gasoline per gallon. Andrew J. Littlefair, CEO of Clean Energy, had this to say of Redeem, "Our goal is to produce and distribute 15 million gallons of Redeem in our first year." Clean Energy Fuels will be hoping it can keep up with demand for the new product. With over 400 fueling stations in the United States, Clean Energy has plenty of demand built up for product. There are two facilities that will be making Redeem fuel, with a third under construction now.
Clean Energy Fuels remains the largest provider of vehicular natural gas in North America. The company has been progressing over the years as a leader in many sectors and customer bases involving natural gas. From the company's June investor presentation:
· 650+ fleet customers
· 8600+ transactions per day
· 400+ fueling stations in 43 states
Of particular note is the company's partnerships with Republic Services and Waste Management. Clean Energy's existing relations with the top two domestic waste companies should help with the Redeem program. Clean Energy can take trash away from the two for a low payment and create natural gas for its fueling stations.
To go along with Redeem, Clean Energy Fuels has also had several large recent signings that should help boost revenue for the year and bring in additional annual income. Back in August, Clean Energy Fuel subsidiary IWS signed a deal to supply China Gas with compressors and parts. The deal calls for 41 CNG compressors for the construction of 310 stations. The three year deal is worth $167 million. IWS has already equipped 124 CNG stations prior to this new contract and continues to capitalize on China's recent natural gas interests.
Also in August, Clean Energy Fuels signed a 10 year deal with LA Metro to provide 15 million gallons annual of natural gas for public transportation vehicles. August also marked the largest medium duty truck signing in Clean Energy history. The company signed a deal for 100 CNG trucks from Fox Transportation.
Clean Energy saw a strong second fiscal quarter. The company reported revenue of $88.1 million, an increase of 26% from the prior year. Total gallons delivered increased by 8% to 52.6 million gallons. Clean Energy reported a loss of $0.07 per share, which was better than analysts had been expecting. On November 7th, Clean Energy Fuels will report third quarter earnings. With recent developments, the company should beat analysts' targets and provide a better update for the rest of 2013 and 2014.
Risks remain with an investment in Clean Energy. The company is not turning a profit, despite increased revenue output. Clean Energy continues to invest in new stations and production facilities with its revenue earned. Natural gas is currently cheaper than regular gasoline, but if the price of gas comes down, Clean Energy's future growth could be hurt. However, I believe these risks are not enough to sway investors away from a high growth company like Clean Energy Fuels.
Shares of Clean Energy Fuels sit at $13.15 at the time of writing. That puts them towards the top end of their 52 week range ($10.90 to $14.82). It seems hard to believe that shares of Clean Energy traded at $25 back in March of 2012. Over the last two years, shares are up 33%, but they remain nearly flat on the current 2013 year.
Analysts are projecting a loss for earnings in both fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014, giving shares no price to earnings multiple for comparison sake. The company is expected to post an 11% increase in 2013 revenue ($370.9 million). Analysts see revenue growing an impressive 23.9% in fiscal 2014 to come in at $459.7 million. That impressive double digit growth is likely to continue as the company builds more natural gas stations, signs new contracts, and uses programs like Redeem to boost its growth and long-term portfolio. The road ahead is full of growth for Clean Energy Fuels. It's time for investors to join the company along the road with current low share prices.