S&W Seed Company

Q3 2024 Earnings Conference Call


spk00: Good day, and welcome to the S&W Seed Company third quarter fiscal year 2024 financial results conference call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. Should you need assistance, please signal a conference specialist by pressing the star key followed by zero. After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. To ask a question, you may press star, then one on a touch-tone phone. To withdraw your question, please press star, then two. Please note this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Robert Bloom with Lithum Partners. Please go ahead.
spk03: All right. Thank you very much, and thank you all for joining us today to discuss S&W Seed Company's third quarter fiscal year 2024 financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2024. With us on the call representing the company today are Mark Herman, Chief Executive Officer, and Vanessa Bowman, the company's Chief Financial Officer. At the conclusion of today's prepared remarks, we will open the call for a question and answer session. If you dialed into the call through the traditional teleconference line, as the operator indicated, please press star, then 1 to ask a question. If you are listening through the webcast portal and would like to ask a question, you can submit your question through the ask a question feature in the webcast player and we'll do our best to get to as many questions as possible. Before we begin with prepared remarks, please note that statements made by the management team of S&W Seed Company during the course of this conference call may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 as amended, and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as may, future, plan or planned, will or should, expected, anticipate, draft, eventually, or projected. Listeners are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially and those projecting the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projecting the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and other risks identified in the company's 10-K for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2023, and other filings subsequently made by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, to supplement S&W's financial results report in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP, S&W will discuss adjusted EBITDA on this call. This non-GAAP financial measure is not meant to be considered in isolation or as a substitute of the comparable GAAP measure and is not prepared under any comprehensive set of accounting principles or rules. A description of adjusted EBITDA and reconciliations of historical adjusted EBITDA to net loss are included at the end of S&W's earnings release issued earlier today, which has been posted on the investor relations page of S&W's website. An audio recording and webcast replay for today's conference call will also be available online on the company's investor relations page. With that said, let me turn the call over to Mark Herman, Chief Executive Officer for S&W Seed Company. Mark, please proceed.
spk02: Thank you, Robert, and good morning to all of you. I'm excited to be speaking to you today. To set the agenda for this call this morning, Let me first provide a high-level overview of the progress we have made during the past quarter, including the commercialization of Double T, which has gone exceedingly well to date with the technology expected to be on more than 10% of all grain sorghum acres in the United States this year. I will also talk about our technology pipeline with the new traits that are being launched over the next year to drive incremental growth. I will expand on the disruptions we've talked about in the Middle East, which are impacting our operations there, and how we have largely mitigated the impact of these disruptions as it relates to our adjusted EBITDA guidance for the year. Finally, I will provide an update on our Vision Biofuels oil seeds, BBO joint venture, and some of the activities taking place there. Vanessa will then run through the financial results in detail, including our guidance for the rest of the year. We will then close the session with any questions that you might have. So let's start with Double Team. You know, as mentioned moments ago, the commercial launch of Double Team has gone exceedingly well, with expectations for the proprietary high-value sorghum trade technology to be planted on more than 10% of all acres in the United States in 2024. This is approximately double of what was planted just last year. As mentioned in the press release, we are maintaining our guidance for double team growth for fiscal 2024, with revenue expected to be at $11.5 to $14 million, representing an increase of 77% to 115% compared to fiscal 2023 for the product lines. We expect incremental stair-step adoption over the coming years with a goal of 25% market share by 2027. We will look to provide more formal go-forward guidance on our year-end call. However, it's fair to assume that this growth puts Double Team as one of the fastest growing trade technologies on the market today. The reason for this rapid growth today and why we are so confident in the future market share gains is that until SNW's development in sorghum technology, sorghum has been without significant research investments to successfully support step change developments to improve the crop's productivity. As farmers are increasingly recognizing the value of new management tools, corresponding risk reduction and yield enhancement through controlling grasses and more robust crop grazing safety technologies, these superior traits are expected to drive greater numbers of sorghum acres planted in the future. As I touched in detail during our last call, in numerous field trials, Double Team has proved to deliver increased yields with reduced risk of crop failure to growers, providing them with high levels of satisfaction. Sorghum is a great crop to meet current worldwide trends in that it is uniquely equipped to handle higher temperatures, drier climates better than many other crops, contributing to sustainability and food security. To date, Double Team has only been available on grain sorghum crops. As you hopefully saw from our press release last week, we have now launched Double Team into the forage sorghum market as well. We are expecting about $500,000 in DT forage sorghum sales in its introductory year this year, with expectations for similar step change growth in the coming years, much as we have seen and experienced in the grain sorghum market with DT. Beyond Double Team, which gives grain sorghum growers an over-the-top, non-GMO, grassy weed control option, We are expanding our focus on sorghum through the pilot launch of our Presic acid-free trait this year. Presic acid-free sorghum is designed to remove naturally toxic metabolite-stressed sorghum for safe, worry-free grazing in hay. We expect a commercial launch in 2025. We will then look to stack double-team and Presic acid-free traits. which is expected to be commercially available in 2028. I am sure it goes without saying, but beyond the strong return on investment, these trades provide growers. They also provide a significant return for SMW and its shareholders as well. Double-team gross margins are currently around 60%, which we expect will increase in the future due to efficiencies and the ability to spend. We are beginning to recognize the benefits this year with year-to-date margins of 29.2% compared to 23.2% in the previous year. As total revenue in the future continues to shift more towards our robust sorghum technology portfolio, including product line extensions and new technology offers over our next year, we expect to see continued margin expansion and profitability. High-value freight technology solutions will be the key driver to S&W long-term success, and it is clear that we are becoming the key technology provider at Sorghum. As I mentioned a moment ago, Double Team continues to be on track for expectations that we provided at the beginning of the year. The same can be said for our broader Americas business as well, which of course includes Double Team, but also our conventional Sorghum products, as well as alfalfa. As a whole, for fiscal 2024, we are reaffirming our America's combined revenue expectations to be in range of $32 to $33 million. Beyond the fact that we are hitting the revenue expectations in America, we have enacted a number of initiatives to improve efficiencies, including improved lifecycle management, increasing inventory utilization, reducing product SKUs, and obsolescence costs. We are also implementing the rationalization of certain low margin forage product lines and seed treatments, suspension of our stevia development program costs, and an overall seed manufacturing cost reduction plan. I am pleased with the progress the team is making in the Americas and look forward to the continued positive momentum in the years to come. Let's now transition to our international operations. As we talked about last quarter on the conference call, there are a number of headwinds in the markets that we operate within, particularly in the Middle East, Northern Africa, MENA region, that are impacting us directly. And unfortunately, they've gotten worse since our call in February. The key disruptions that have centered around expanding conflicts in the MENA region, in particular the war in Ukraine, the Sudan civil war, two key results have occurred. The first has been the transition of many alfalfa growers in the MENA region to plant wheat this upcoming season, which has caused disruptions to normal farming operations and seed distribution channels. The second is that the Department of Ministry in the Saudi Arabia market has recently discontinued their approval of import permits for all forages, which includes alfalfa in all grasses. As a means of water conservation, Combined, we expect to see an impact of approximately $6 to $7 million in revenue from our previous stated guidance. This decrease is within our mid-margin alfalfa products and will affect both volume and pricing expectations on a go-forward basis globally for the remainder of fiscal 2024. Also, as we have signaled in our previous earnings call, we have seen a shortage in supply within our Australia pasture products, which has limited our ability to meet demand in Australia. This will result in a $3 to $4 million revenue reduction in the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2024 within our low-margin pasture products. So all told, we see a $9 to $11 million revenue impact to our international operations. That said, and as Vanessa will discuss in detail, despite the revenue impact, we are only making slight adjustments to our overall adjusted EBITDA guidance. In fact, the midpoint of our new adjusted EBITDA guidance is still within range of guidance we provided at the beginning of the fiscal year. As we have introduced in previous calls, we have identified and pursued several actions in Australia to improve margins, terminating business projects that have development costs or OPEX costs with low prospect to contribute solid margins and EBITDA in the near future, as well as numerous efficiency measures with facility streamlining, such as the closure of the Wingfield facility consolidating activities into alternative S&W facilities. So while we're frustrated with the disruptions, I am pleased we have operated at a high level across the rest of the organization, having implemented a number of initiatives that have helped to largely mitigate the shortfall. Now, transitioning to a couple of quick updates since our last call regards to our Vision Bioenergy oil seeds business, BBO, the partnership with Shell for biofuels. BBO recently signed an exclusive license for bufacinate-resistant amelina trait, which its research team is moving all efforts to integrate into high-value germplasm and hybrids for commercial use. Bufacinate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that, when utilized with resistant crops, provides an effective over-the-top weed control system. All BBO development efforts will now pivot to fast-tracking this high-value trait into leading products to offer growers. Currently, BBO will be putting out pre-commercial demonstration blocks to highlight the technology value with growers in 2024 and 2025, move to commercial launch for limited trials fall of 2025, and then wide scale plannings in 2026. With this significant technology advancement, BBO has decided not to expand commercial or conventional camelina to focus on launching this breakthrough and fascinate resistant camelina technology trade. Further, BBO has a technology pipeline in development to continue to advance high value products which will contribute to biofuels for the future. Beyond the development progress made within BBO, we successfully achieved all stated objectives required of S&W for our part of the partnership and received a $6 million payment from Shell in February 2024, helping to bolster our balance sheet. Speaking of partnerships and balance sheets, as I introduced earlier, streamlining efforts in Australia, we have made the decision to sell off the remaining portion of our Australia partnership with Trigold Genetics, a wheat development partnership. Since the beginning of January, we have received a total of $1.4 million in consideration, as well as a significant reduction in research and op-ex expense that will start being recognized immediately. With that, let me turn the call to Vanessa to review the financials. I will then look to quickly update things and take your questions.
spk05: Vanessa. Thanks, Mark. Good morning to everyone on the call today. Let me run through the details of the quarter starting with revenue. Total revenue for Q3 2024 was 18.3 million compared to 17.7 million in Q3 of last year. Breaking it down further, sorghum sales were 8.3 million versus 7.7 million last year, an improvement of 600,000. Of this, double-team was 3.4 million versus 3.8 million in Q3 of a year ago, a decrease of 10% or 400,000. International forage sales were 6.9 million compared to 7.7 million in Q3 of last year, a decrease of 800,000. And in the Americas, forage sales were 2.8 million compared to 2 million in Q3 of last year, an increase of 800,000. Looking at it geographically, we saw 400,000 increase in total U.S. sorghum sales in Q3 year over year, with double team down approximately 400,000. This downside of 400,000 was offset by an increase in non-DT sorghum products of approximately 800,000. This is due to the timing of the mix of products shipped in Q3 with double team products shipped in earlier quarters in fiscal 2024 versus fiscal year 2023. The Americas also had a one million increase in non-dormant alfalfa in Q3 year over year. This was primarily due to the timing of shipments in the later quarters of fiscal 2024 versus fiscal year 2023. Also, We saw a 400,000 decrease in MENA for the reasons Mark discussed earlier. We had a 600,000 decrease in Australia forage cereals and pasture products due to the shortage in supply. And finally, we had a $200,000 increase in Asia. Again, The key point here is that margin growth is attributable to double-team sorghum revenue being up year-to-date, which is offset by the macro drivers impacting MENA and our Australia operations. Due to the dynamics in the MENA region that Mark discussed potentially impacting international alfalfa operations, We currently expect fiscal year 2024 revenue to be in the range of 67 to 70 million. This is a change from our previous guidance, which was 76 to 82 million. As Mark discussed, we remain on track in our America's business, which includes our double team sorghum. The change in guidance is entirely on the international side of our operations, where we expect to see an impact of approximately $6 to $7 million in revenue from our previously stated guidance as a result of the geopolitical activities worsening in the MENA region, and a $3 to $4 million impact within our Australia pasture product. Breaking the guidance down further, we expect sorghum-related revenue to continue to be between $22 and $23 million in total, compared to $18.5 million in fiscal 2023. Within sorghum, we anticipate double-team to still be within $11.5 to $14 million, which is an increase of 77% to 115%. compared to fiscal 2023. On the U.S. Forge operations side, we continue to see revenue of about $9 million compared to 10.8 million from last year. And adjusting for the aforementioned change within our international operations, we are expecting revenue to be between 35 and 37 million compared to 43.6 million in fiscal 2023. Now turning to margins, GAAP gross margins for the third quarter of fiscal 2024 were 27.4 percent compared to 25.1 percent in the third quarter of fiscal 2023. The improvement in gross profit margin was primarily driven by an improvement related to Australian receivables for contracts denominated in U.S. dollars, coupled with cost savings in production that improved sorghum margins. This was offset by inventory write-offs of dormant alfalfa, as well as a slight decrease in sorghum margins due to a double team decrease in volume sold. Finally, a decrease in non-dormant alfalfa margins in Australia's domestic market. Year-to-date, gross margins are 29.2% compared to 23.2% from fiscal 2023. Looking to fiscal 2024 as a whole, we continue to expect gross margins to be between 24 and 26%. Recall this compares to 19.8% from fiscal 2023. Now we'll transition to operating expenses. GAAP operating expenses for the third quarter were 7.7 million, which is consistent with the first and second quarters of this year and an improvement compared to 8.3 million in last year's third quarter. Breaking it down a bit, We saw a $300,000 improvement from research and development expenses and a $300,000 improvement in selling general and administrative expenses. Consistent with our expectations provided last quarter, we continue to believe total operating expenses for the fiscal year to be at $32.5 million, which is inclusive of depreciation and amortization. Now to EBITDA. Adjusted EBITDA for Q3 2024 was a negative 1.2 million compared to adjusted EBITDA of negative 0.4 million in Q3 fiscal 2023. A full reconciliation is available in the press release. Again, as Mark mentioned, despite the change to our revenue guidance for this year, we are making modest changes to our adjusted EBITDA guidance, as much of the revenue impact was within our lower to mid-margin product. With the improvements in operations in both the U.S. and Australia and OPEX costs, this has allowed us to mitigate much of the impact towards our expectations. So to reiterate, our adjusted EBITDA guidance we are now expecting fiscal 2024 to be in the range of negative 6 million to negative 8.5 million. This compared to our earlier range of negative 4 million to negative 7.5 million. All told, even at the low end of our current range, this would still be an improvement compared to last year's adjusted EBITDA of negative 9.3 million as we continue to drive organizational efficiency. Finally, on the net income line, our gap net loss for Q3 fiscal 2024 was negative five and a half million or negative 13 cents per basic and diluted share compared to gap net income of 32.1 million or 74 cents per basic and diluted share in Q3 of last fiscal year. Please recall that we generated $38.3 million in income from last year's third quarter due to the sale of our business interest as part of the BBO transaction. And as discussed in previous calls, we will incur a loss equity method due to our interest in BBO. With Q3, that amounted to 1.8 million year to date. This is a non-cash expense for S&W. We have provided a reconciliation in our press release, not only for adjusted EBITDA, but also for non-GAAP adjusted net losses. As we've discussed last quarter, And mentioned in the press release, we received a $6 million payment from Shell in February of 2024. We also received a combined payment from our TRIGAL JV of $1.4 million. Despite our negative adjusted EBITDA expectation, which translates rather closely to our cash utilization, the payment from Shell and TRIGAL are expected to cover any operating cash needs for this year. Beyond fiscal 2024, if we're able to continue the growth in our Sorghum technology portfolio and achieve the benefits of the stability and cost containment initiatives across the remaining parts of the organization, it is our thought that we will be near a positive cash flow position in the near future. Again, I'm happy to follow up with any of the details we went through if you should have additional questions. With that, let me turn the call back over to Mark.
spk02: Thank you, Vanessa. A couple of quick recaps before we turn it over to your questions. First, our high value, high margin, double team sorghum trade technology solution remains on track to achieve the rapid growth and adoption we expected at the beginning of the year. Since its introduction just about three years ago, it is a It is expected to be on 10% of grain sorghum acres this year. Second, with the launch of our double team forage solution this year, coupled with the introduction of our second key sorghum trait next year, prussic acid free, we are becoming the leader on sorghum technologies. Gross margins have improved substantially during the fiscal year, and we have built on the progress made last year to reduce operating expenses. As DT continues to grow, we believe the margin profile of S&W will continue to improve. While Double Team and our broader Americans operations continue to meet and exceed many of the operational metrics we have set forth for them, we are experiencing the impact of the disruptions in the MENA region from the various geopolitical issues. Despite the impact to our revenue, we have largely mitigated the impact to our adjusted EBITDA expectations for the year. That said, we understand the need to get to profitability in the near term and will ensure the organization is appropriately positioned to achieve that goal. As always, I appreciate, I am appreciative of the continued interest in S&W. And with that said, I look forward to taking your questions. Operator? Operator?
spk00: We will now begin the question and answer session. To ask a question, you may press star then 1 on your touchtone phone. If you are using a speakerphone, please pick up your handset before pressing the keys. If at any time your question has been addressed and you would like to withdraw your question, please press star then 2. At this time, we will pause momentarily to assemble our roster. The first question today comes from Ben Cleave with Lake Street Capital Markets. Please go ahead.
spk01: All right. Thanks for taking my questions. First, a couple on double team. You know, you talked a lot about kind of the immediate and kind of midterm initiatives throughout this platform between 25% market share in grain sorghum plus a couple of novel products coming in behind it in the forage market and pressing free. I'm wondering if you can talk about the degree to which you think you will need to invest in OPEX in support of growth coming out of this portfolio over the next few years.
spk02: Hey, good morning, Ben. I appreciate you joining this morning and your question. I think that's a great point to look at, and the ability for us to expand without significant OPEX increase is really driven by our combined brand as well as licensed approach. So right now in the U.S., we've got 10% market share. We've also now signed on 15 independent seed companies that are also offering a private label offering of DT through their brands. And as you know, I ran the licensing business for Monsanto, the corn states business. And it's a very efficient process, particularly when you have a breakthrough technology that really high benefits come from fast penetration, right? So these 15 brands are really managed and serviced by our current commercial leadership. with about three people with direct involvement, and then just support in the field through the current sales organization that we have. But between Sorghum Partners brand and the market positioning aggressively, Sorghum Partner hybrids as well as DT, the other 15 brands in the marketplace can help us accelerate this very quickly. And I'd add as well as we look at global markets, Our main approach is working with market leaders, preferably global companies, that already have a high presence, high share, strong germplasm pool in those markets of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Australia. And then through license agreements with those companies, they carry our technology to the marketplace, report sales, and pay us a royalty based on acre or hectare based on our evaluations that the trade brings. And really, the ones that we'll be working with in the near future are DT. Then DT2 comes, which will allow for earlier spraying of grass weeds in the sorghum's growth cycle. Then it is PAF, and then we'll have DT and PAF stacked, which will bring additive value and won't force farmers to choose between two very valuable options of being able to apply herbicides to control grass as well as the option to use PAF to where they can harvest and quickly put livestock into the field without the concern of prussic acid and livestock safety. So we really believe part of our advantage being focused on a technology platform we'll be able to expand across all key SORGA markets with very limited OPEX and CAPEX as we go forward.
spk01: Great, great. That's great to hear the scalability you think is coming on this brand. Another double team question in the very immediate term, but by my count, you guys are roughly seven and a half million of double team revenue year to date through the third quarter. you know, well on your way to your guide. I'm wondering if you can talk about kind of the big variables that would drive the low end versus the high end of your revenue guidance for this product in fiscal 24.
spk02: Yeah, I'd say the biggest risk we have, particularly since we're just in the U.S. market, will be as the year unfolds, commodity markets change. Will the six and a half million acres of sorghum go up or down based on market conditions and cropping conditions. We believe that DT helps increase the interest in sorghum as it gives farmers tools to control grassy weeds, which rob yield that they didn't have before. But I would say that's our biggest, that's probably the biggest risk factor. And unfortunately, as we're just entering the planting season, And the planting season will be very active really right through our year end of the end of June and into early July. You know, it's a hard call with our year end being the end of June. We'll be right at the tail end of the season as we're trying to assess and accrue for things such as returns and actual planting piece. But that would be the number one risk to the business.
spk01: Got it. Got it. Very helpful. pivoting to the international dynamics, which all of these issues that you outlined are very much understandable. I'm wondering if you can help us kind of frame kind of full year contributions, maybe in fiscal 23 that came from these markets that you're seeing significant pressure. I'm just trying to understand kind of looking forward kind of how big of a revenue bucket all of these, you know, all of these, you know, issues represent. I appreciated your updates to the guidance, but I'm wondering kind of on a full year basis going forward, kind of the magnitude of all these issues.
spk02: And are you asking as the magnitude for 2024, Ben, or looking forward to 25 and beyond?
spk01: Yeah, I'm more looking 25 and beyond. I mean, you guys gave very helpful guidance this year, which, you know, which helps kind of frame, you know, the immediate term. I'm wondering more on kind of a full year basis going forward, because your updated guidance now is only going to be for, you know, less than, you know, for a fraction of a full year. So I'm just wondering kind of if you can give me some kind of general framework for the magnitude on a full-year level that all of these international challenges represent in some way?
spk02: Yeah, so I would say, and I hate to say it as a worst case, but I would almost say this year is a picture of either a worst case or a steady state, right? So if we don't see the Middle East MENA market return, which has been really a very consistent trend marketplace for non-dormant alfalfa for probably the last five years if we if we see it stay with the current conditions in really all three Saudi Arabia Sudan as well as Egypt in the Middle East I mean they're they're pretty key customers but I would say that this year captures the majority of all ongoing risk, right? And as we're building our plans for next year, we're trying to be very, very realistic. Last year, if you remember, the budgets were pretty well finished by the time I and Vanessa were involved. But as we're working with the teams to assess, we're not trying to build in any wild optimism that there are no challenges in the MENA market going into next year. uh, into, to next year. Now we felt like we had built some of the downside, particularly Sudan, uh, uh, into this year's number, but unfortunately it expanded. And then the latest position of even blocking import options, uh, orders we had on the books to be delivered to, to Saudi Arabia. We basically, in our numbers, we communicated now taking those, taking those completely out, uh, So I believe we've tried to build a realistic deliverable, but hopefully there aren't any other expanding surprises as we look at that marketplace.
spk01: Okay, very good. That's helpful. And then one more for me on the Trigel Genetics. I want to make sure I understand. You said you've received $1.4 million to date. uh from uh from exiting this uh this plus a reduction in opex i'm wondering if you can one comment on if you have a sense that that 1.4 million of cash received is going to grow uh here in coming weeks and months um and then to talk about kind of the the opex uh that was uh dedicated to this initiative that uh that's being removed from the model yes so the the 1.4 is the complete
spk02: exit with the 20%, so we're no longer a part of the JV at all within TRIGAL. And then the savings for the remainder of this year is $200,000 in OPEX. And then there would have been ongoing annual costs to support losses through expenses in both research and other OPEX pieces that the TRIGAL JV were accumulating, right? And there's been a change in strategy scope of the business. And as we evaluate it for our continued involvement, it clearly was the best decision as we really worked to focus in on some areas we see as very high margin, very high demand. We've got a deep portfolio of high margin products to move into the marketplace and really focus on our growth and our profitable engine. It would be another step of taking costs out, and I'd actually use the Tri-Go example as just an example as we're evaluating the international Australia business. Anything that we're evaluating that isn't contributing positive margins that contribute to EBIT drivers, we're taking a hard look at what expenses are happening within those either product lines or business entities in Australia. deciding to move aggressively to streamline expenses. Got it. Another example would be we bought companies that had some manufacturing sites relatively close together, so we've completed the first step of several of the Wingfield facility, which was within 30 minutes of the Penfield facility, which we closed the Wingfield facility. We had a exit expense with buying out a lease but the savings both in some personnel savings as we consolidated those activities into the pinfield facility which like i say is is only 30 minutes away and move forward so we've still got several initiatives such as it to really work to try to drive the australia domestic business to a positive EBIT, as well as cash-generating business, which being the product lines are lower margin, is a key effort that we need to make.
spk01: Very good. Well, I appreciate your efforts there. Thanks for taking my questions. I'm going to go back and kill.
spk02: Hey, thanks a lot, Ben. Thanks again.
spk00: As a reminder, if you would like to ask a question, please press star then 1 to be joined into the question queue. The next question comes from Kurt Karamandis with Carl M. Henning, Inc. Please go ahead.
spk04: Hi, thanks for taking my questions. Did you say you're going to have a glyphosate-ready camelina for 26? Yeah, for 26.
spk02: The research team with VBO has already acquired the exclusive license, and the research team is aggressively working to move it from germplasm that is currently into elite germplasm and elite hybrids. So this year, actually, there will be demonstrations this coming fall to demonstrate to farmers and to the market the value of germplasm broad spectrum post weed control program on a resistant camelina crop. And then the development process for the inbreds to move into hybrids will be a total focus of the research and tech groups. So by 26, the belief is that they will have camelina with glyphosate resistance or glufosinate resistance ready to position for the planting season in 26 in the fall.
spk04: Would that be exclusive or other people have the same thing?
spk02: This trait that is licensed is licensed exclusively.
spk04: So nobody else has that type of product because I know other people I think are working on Camelina.
spk02: If they come forward, it would have to be a different event approach. But I do know that this is a key target. for Camelina to really be able to be a broad acre, very efficient biofuel feedstock. So it is a very important development as we go forward.
spk04: Great. Then the question is, what kind of levers do you have to pull for liquidity to get to, I don't know if 26, then you would start making money on VBO, if that's accurate, but in a fiscal 25 and to get Maybe that gap filled, the market clearly sees challenges there. What do you have for levers to pull to maybe get us to, there's quite a bit going on on the positive side, obviously some near-term negatives with the around the world stuff, but what do you have for levers to pull to kind of get us to where you're in a better position?
spk02: Yeah, I would say near-term is going to continue to have OPEX and research expense. that revenue won't cover, but we'll have more update of that as we go forward. Midterm and long-term, I think it has a fantastic opportunity and outlook.
spk04: And I guess I'm saying maybe just as a company in general, how is your liquidity position looking the next 12 to 18 months and what levers do you have to pull to kind of help that out?
spk02: And you're talking VBO specifically?
spk04: No, no, the whole company. Yeah.
spk02: And as you know, we, uh, uh, we are a 34% shareholder of the VBO. The 66% shareholder would be Shell. We've got two members on the VBO board as part of our, uh, as part of our investment as they're working through, uh, the business direction. The liquidity piece, Shell would be responsible for 66%, and S&W would be responsible for 34% as operations move forward. And if you remember in the JV development, that Shell contributed to the cash flow needs of the organization early in its time period. I can't speak exactly to... where they're at or what the exact deliverable is post in the near term as far as liquidity contributions. They're having their board meeting I believe the week after the SMW board meeting. So in two weeks, which I'm sure they'll be sharing more information there.
spk04: Okay, I'm sorry. I was saying for SMW, For our liquidity separate from VBO, how are you looking at the next 12 to 18 months? If it gets tight, what kind of levers do you have to pull outside of VBO, just the regular company?
spk02: Yeah, for S&W for this year, and Vanessa touched on it as she went through it. And Vanessa, please, if I don't cover it accurately, jump in when I'm done. But with the contribution, the $6 million contribution from Shell this February, As SNW, you know, hit all its milestones to drive that payment, as well as the TRIGO 1.4, we believe our results on our forecast should cover our cash flow needs for this year. As we look to next year and we look at the continued growth, particularly of the high margin sorghum portfolio driven by DT grain sorghum and DT forage sorghum and PAF for next year, we believe right now that we should be able to cover cash needs for next year. And as we go forward, growth from the Sorghum trade portfolio should cover cash needs. So, Vanessa, that'll be my shot. If I miss anything or misrepresent anything, please jump in.
spk05: No, no, that's accurate. And I would add it's working capital management. So capital as well as OpEx. We continue to streamline and build efficiencies both in our cost of manufacturing, in OPEX, as well as capital investments. So as we streamline and bring those down continuously into 2025, we believe we'd be at a net neutral position for cash for next year. And that's what we've been working towards all through 2024 is to get our cost structure as lean and streamlined as we can and continue those improvements into 2025.
spk02: Thank you so much. But we started the year really heavily talking about SNW needs to address costs and cost sides and be a best-in-class seed company as you look at cost of goods and others. I do believe with the changes that have been made in operations with our production plan that we're building with the sales trend and sales plan we've got, Next year we'll be at the lowest level of inventory carryover for several years and pretty close to a seed industry optimal with approximately 70% seed utilization within a sales year. But I do believe then as we move 25 and beyond, we should be at a best in class cost in the operation business as we've worked through some historical higher cost inventories. As we do move forward, I think we'll see contributions both with the sorghum portfolio increasing its percentage of total sales as well as efficiencies through particularly the sorghum production organization.
spk04: Thank you so much for taking my questions. Appreciate it.
spk02: You bet, Kirk. Thanks for joining us this morning.
spk00: Once again, to ask a question, please press star then 1 to join into the question queue.
spk03: Betsy, this is Robert here. And to Mark and Vanessa, we have just a couple of questions through the webcast portal that I'd like to make sure we get to. And if anyone else queues back up, we'll be sure to come back to them there. Just a couple questions here on Double Team, and I'll try to summarize a few of them here. Maybe talk a little bit about some of the ways to earn royalties, some of the licensing agreements. What's your any progress that's being made on that front as it pertains to double team?
spk02: No, thanks, Robert. And actually, that's a fantastic question. And it really launches in as we've evaluated double team and look at what value does double bring farmers in the U.S.? ? And we've worked with third-party organizations trying to fully assess the positioning. But as we look at yield loss due to grassy weeds in the U.S., the overall production loss through the 6.5 million acres is between a quarter and a third of a billion dollars in the U.S. based on our best assessments. And then really that drives what value Double Team has in the marketplaces. Because clearly from a lot of data, we know that farmers need to retain half to two-thirds of the value created to really justify and motivate their investment in the technology. And while we use averages, when it actually plays out on farm, I mean, it does from slight yield decrease to total devastation of a crop, right? But if you look at the average value across the U.S. annual yield losses or production losses is a third of a billion dollars. So that really drives our position to then assess what value really needs to retain on farm for the right message, improve farm profitability. And then if it's S&W brand, how we price that to the farmer. And obviously if it's S&W brand, we still have our channel. being a dealer network and other expenses running a brand to operate. If we go through licensee, which I talked about, we've got 15 independent seed companies that have signed a license for DT and actually sell 40% to 50% of our total DT volume in the U.S. But it's an incredible way to multiply your connection points to farmers and allow them to keep working with their customers their seed dealer and their seed brand that they've worked with for years and know and trust. But through that group, we also know there needs to be a margin in it for them as well. So through our licensees, the price would be less than S&W, but it would be appropriate for their covering their channel's cost to deliver and connect and sell and service farmers, as well as the company itself needs a level of profitability to really justify their They're taking risk in production, inventory, management of the SKU to the farmer. And we end up somewhere in that 75% to 80% range of the S&W channel value to farmers. So it's a fairly sophisticated, but in my mind, it's a fairly simple thought process, but it's a fairly sophisticated approach. process as far as really understanding the value delivered and how value is shared all the way between the farmer, S&W, seed companies that are partnering with us to deliver that in the marketplace, and then cover costs and really drive towards profitability. But we've got 15 licensees in the U.S., We have contact for addressing the particularly Argentina and Brazil market of three to four key companies we would like to work with that would represent a significant portion of the sorghum acres there, as well as looking at two to three in Australia for the same approach. And then Mexico would be a blend between S&W brands working through Mexico as well as licensed markets. We really believe we have a very effective process and also a process that's much safer to ensure we get collections efficiently with companies that are already operating in international markets that are very accustomed to moving payment as U.S. currency through the system. So I think the license side combined with our branded side is a very important discussion And I believe it also ties to what was discussed earlier as well as what the OPEX costs will be to see us continue to expand this trade. I talked about the value of DT alone is a quarter to a third of a billion dollars of loss yield annually in the U.S. When we look at all global markets, I mean, it's a half a billion dollar trade across Europe. the 13 plus million acres we're targeting.
spk03: All right, that's great. A lot of detail there. One thing, I don't know if there's anything you can add on to this, but there was a question relating to sort of energy savings, double team versus conventional. Is there anything that can be, that you can add on to the comment that you just made there specific to energy savings?
spk02: Yeah, I think that's great. And to me, the first step of sustainability is, Since a farmer is losing this yield and this value per acre because of grassy weeds, being able to control those grassy weeds, all other input factors, land rent, fertilizer, irrigation, land control, every other expense stays the same. You're able to add that as significant profitability to farm, but you're also able to produce that much more productivity on fewer acres, right? So if I look at a sustainability trait, to me, DT falls right in it. If I look at sustainability as a crop, sorghum can produce a crop with significantly less water. So if you're dealing with a limited irrigation well or limited water or a little bit more marginal ground dealing with higher temperatures, sorghum is a much more adaptable crop than if you look at corn, soybeans, and other options. So if you look at the full sustainability picture and energy savings, there's a great opportunity with sorghum to expand. And one of the reasons it hasn't is because of grassy weeds, because there wasn't an option to come back and control grass in my sorghum, basically because sorghum and corn are grasses. So to be able to spray and kill grasses without killing the crop you need some level of a tool that enables you to do that. And DT has been just a fantastic fit, which also explains why it's had very fast adoption. Three years in the market, it's on 10% of the U.S. sorghum makers. And I'll just take us back to pre-DT. S&W Seed only had 5% to 6% share of the total U.S. sorghum market at that time. So in just a three-year period, it's expanded to a significantly bigger footprint than what SNW had for sorghum in the U.S. prior to that, right? And I do believe we're just on the early test of market penetration, full market awareness of the value that it brings, but a key energy saver. And also, even if you already have grain sorghum on an irrigated field, Sorghum is a crop that if it's a deep well and you're pulling water from deep, obviously energy to pull that water up is very, very expensive. So if you're trying to irrigate for corn, you've got to pull significantly more water up to finish a solid crop than if you're using grain sorghum. So it definitely gives the opportunity to even pure energy of using less energy and less water to finish a crop and drive farm profitability. So this, along with the next one, PAF, is a very valuable tool as well. And once we stack it and you're able to have DT and PAF on the same acre, we believe there's a solid multiple as far as the value to the farmer with that technology, as well as then the value that can be shared with S&W and the rest of the channel that are supporting this technology pipeline.
spk03: Fantastic. Well, we'll go ahead and we'll leave it there. Mark, Vanessa, I'll turn it back over to you for any closing remarks here.
spk02: Well, I just want to thank everybody for joining the call this morning. And I know we have some opportunities for follow-up discussions if you wanted to set those up through Latham Partners as well. But I look forward to visiting with all that are interested in a follow-up. But my thanks to everybody for the call this morning, and I look forward to hopefully speaking with you again soon. Thank you.
spk00: The conference has now concluded. Thank you for attending today's presentation. You may now disconnect.

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