Join        Login             Stock Quote

The Only 5 Biofuel Stocks Worth Owning

 February 25, 2013 01:00 PM

Investors looking for clues about the future of the biofuel industry in the United States need to take a look at Brazil. That's because according to many analysts, the leading emerging market in South America is considered to have the world's first sustainable biofuels economy.

There are a few very good reasons for this.

The first is age. Brazil's ethanol fuel program is 37 years old, giving the local industry, economy and infrastructure time to adapt to this new source of energy. The second is government fuel standards, which include a federal mandate that domestic gasoline contains an 18% mix of anhydrous ethanol. And finally, probably the most important element in the success of Brazil's biofuel industry is its prodigious agriculture industry, enabling it to source biomaterials to convert into ethanol.

[Related -Upside Calls Change Hands On Verifone As Shares Rebound]

The success of the country's biofuel industry is a mirror image of what is currently happening in the United States. Much like Brazil, the United States biofuel industry is mature, experiencing resurgence during the late 1970s energy crisis and steadily growing ever since. This growing trend has lifted the United States to become the largest biofuel producer in the world. Also like Brazil, the United States has massive agricultural production capacity that will enable it to further supply biomaterials for energy consumption.

But the key difference between the two countries is the government. Although I'm not a big fan of government involvement in the private sector, the biofuels industry is definitely set to gain on government regulation.

[Related -The Best Publicly Traded Company A Powerball Ticket Can Buy]

The current National Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program, established under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, requires most refiners, importers and non-oxygenate blenders of gasoline to displace 10% of their gasoline with renewable fuels such as ethanol. This requirement is designed to ensure that at least 11 billion gallons of renewable fuel is sold annually. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is targeting 36 billion gallons sold annually by 2022.

The biofuel industry also got a boost on the fiscal cliff deal, keeping intact a $1.01 per gallon tax credit for the remainder of the year. It also retroactively activates a $1-per-gallon production credit for biodiesel (that ended in December 2011) through the end of the year.

When you factor growing federal regulation and subsidies in the domestic biofuel industry, the United States looks a lot like Brazil 20 years ago: On the cusp of a sustainable biofuels industry.

This means early investors in young and growing biofuel companies stand to see big gains as more and capital flows into the sector. As it stands, there are 21 publicly-traded companies in the biofuel sector. Only five are profitable.

Here's a table of these five companies.

From the group, these two stocks stand out for their attractive valuations and surging estimates...

1. Renewable Energy Group Inc.

With a market cap of $225 million, Renewable Energy Group Inc. (Nasdaq: REGI) refines and markets biodiesel in Canada and the United States. With the fiscal cliff deal renewing biofuel subsidies, shares have been hot in the past three months, up a market-beating 52%.

Estimates have also been surging, with analysts projecting full-year earnings of 78 cents a share in 2014, a bullish 306% year-over-year growth projection. Long term, analysts are looking for annual earnings growth of 15% in the next five years, ahead of the industry average of 14%. And when you factor in a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 10, a discount to the S&P 500's P/E of 15, Renewable Energy Group has a unique combination of growth and value.

2. Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc.

Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. (Nasdaq: GPRE) refines and sells ethanol, distiller grains and corn oil in the United States and has a market cap of $289 million.

The company has been red hot in the past six months, up an amazing 131%. This bullish movement has been fueled by surging estimates, with the full-year 2014 estimate almost doubling from 50 cents a share projected for 2013 to 95 cents a share. Analysts are projecting earnings of 65 cents in 2013, which would be a 239% increase from last year.

This has shares trading with a forward P/E ratio of 15, directly in line with the S&P 500 in spite of the bullish growth projection.

Risks to Consider: Any industry benefiting from government regulation and subsidies is vulnerable to fluctuations in federal and fiscal policy.

Action to Take --> The biofuels industry is set to gain on growing federal subsidies and regulation, which has already sent many stocks from the sector soaring in the past three months. But looking forward, the real gains are still to be made as the United States continues to mandate higher usage of biofuels.

Out of the five companies above, my two favorites are Renewable Energy Group and Green Plains Renewable Energy because of their bullish growth projections and very attractive valuations.

--Michael Vodicka

Michael Vodicka does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article. StreetAuthority LLC does not hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.


Post Comment -- Login is required to post message
Alert for new comments:
Your email:
Your Website:

rss feed

Latest Stories

article imageAutomating Ourselves To Unemployment

In this current era of central planning, malincentives abound. We raced to frack as fast we could for the read on...

article imageFed: Waiting For June… Or Godot?

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged yesterday, as widely expected. But the possibility of a read on...

article imageThe Single Best Place To Invest Your Money For Retirement

It was never supposed to be this daunting. At least that's what we were read on...

article imageNegative Blowback From Negative Interest Rates

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged today. But perhaps standing pat read on...

Popular Articles

Daily Sector Scan
Partner Center

Fundamental data is provided by Zacks Investment Research, and Commentary, news and Press Releases provided by YellowBrix and Quotemedia.
All information provided "as is" for informational purposes only, not intended for trading purposes or advice. iStockAnalyst.com is not an investment adviser and does not provide, endorse or review any information or data contained herein.
The blog articles are opinions by respective blogger. By using this site you are agreeing to terms and conditions posted on respective bloggers' website.
The postings/comments on the site may or may not be from reliable sources. Neither iStockAnalyst nor any of its independent providers is liable for any informational errors, incompleteness, or delays, or for any actions taken in reliance on information contained herein. You are solely responsible for the investment decisions made by you and the consequences resulting therefrom. By accessing the iStockAnalyst.com site, you agree not to redistribute the information found therein.
The sector scan is based on 15-30 minutes delayed data. The Pattern scan is based on EOD data.