Los Angeles Business Journal

Lower Revenue, Wider Loss for Ceres

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Energy crop company Ceres Inc. announced Thursday a sharp decline in revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter as it continues to struggle in the Brazilian market.

The Thousand Oaks agricultural biotech reported a net loss of $7.3 million (-29 cents a share) in the quarter ended Aug. 31, compared with a net loss of $6.6 million (-27 cents) in the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 30 percent to $898,000.

Wall Street analysts forecasted a loss of 32 cents a share on revenue of $890,000, according to Thomson Financial.

Ceres is among a handful of firms developing genetically modified sweet sorghum for conversion into ethanol. The company reported that plantings for the 2013-2014 sorghum growing season in Brazil have begun and are expected to continue through December.

But the demand for the seeds has been lower than expected, prompting Ceres to announce last month it would lay off about 20 percent of its work force. The company has yet to post a profit since going public in February 2012.

Chief Executive Richard Hamilton said the company has made some adjustments to its product development process and hopes for more consistent output going forward.

“Our goal this season is to clearly demonstrate the economic basis for sweet and high biomass sorghum cultivation and processing,” he said, in a prepared statement.

For the full year, Ceres reported a net loss of $32.5 million (-$1.31 a share), compared with a net loss of $29.4 million (-$2.18) the year prior. Revenue fell 2 percent to $5.2 million.

Analysts had expected a loss of $1.33 on revenue of $4.85 million according to Thomson Financial.

Shares closed up 2 cents, or a little more than 1 percent, to close $1.75 on the Nasdaq. Shares gained another 2 cents in after-hours trading.