Danimer Scientific, Inc.

Q1 2022 Earnings Conference Call


spk08: Greetings and welcome to the Dannemann Scientific first quarter 2022 conference call. At this time, we're in a listen-only mode. A question and answer session will follow the formal presentation. If anyone needs operator assistance to the conference, please press the answer button on the phone keypad. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I'll now turn the conference over to Ross Zukowski. Please go ahead.
spk04: Thank you, Operator, and thank you, everyone, for joining us today for our first quarter 2022 earnings call. Hosting the call today are Danimer CEO Steve Cross-Cree and CFO Mike Ajost. During our discussion today, we will be referring to our earnings presentation, which is available on the investor relations section of our website at danimerscientific.com. On slide two, please note that we may discuss forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, among other things, future results of operations, capacity, production, and demand levels that could differ in a material way from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. We assume no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof. except as required by law. Today's presentation also includes references to non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP financial measures can be found in the earnings presentation. I will now turn the call over to Steve.
spk03: Thank you, Russ. Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for joining. During the first quarter, we progressed further on our journey to deliver leading biodegradable packaging solutions for a variety of in-demand customer applications. Today, I will discuss our first quarter performance, recent business development updates, and the progress of our capacity expansion plans. Every initiative we have undertaken aligns with the key strategic priorities we outlined last quarter, shown on slide three. These priorities are, number one, Expand our capacity to achieve substantial economies of scale, not only through increasing our organic production capacity in Kentucky and Georgia, but also by leveraging strategic third-party relationships, such as our collaborations with Hyundai Oil Bank and others. Number two, lead with innovation to address a broad range of customer needs as we continue to leverage our core competency of formulation and application development. This will be done through our own proprietary technology and experienced team of researchers and scientists, and also includes the pursuit of new R&D development and licensing agreements with partners, such as our recently announced license and supply agreement with Chimera. Number three, grow customer partnerships and product volume commitments with global blue chip customers to secure future demand for our increasing capacity. Number four, secure cost-effective inputs. Examples of this are our collaborations to evaluate effective alternative feedstocks, as well as securing long-term input supply contracts, such as our agreement with Total Corbion. Number five, attain favorable unit economics to enhance margins, first through increased capacity utilization, then ramping up production of Renovo. And number six, enhance team capabilities to support growth across manufacturing, business development, R&D, information technology, human resources, and finance. Everything we have communicated to you and everything we are focused on going forward can be connected to one or more of these strategic priorities. Turning to slide four, PHA became an even larger portion of our revenue during the quarter, nearly doubling year over year and driving total revenues up 12% to $14.7 million. PHA sales could have been even stronger in the quarter, but several straw converter customers are sold out, and some have had supply chain issues with new equipment orders required to increase their capacity. Our higher PHA sales more than offset a decrease in PLA sales during the quarter. A portion of PLA sales were negatively impacted by the war in Ukraine, and given the uncertainties there, we do not expect this business to return in 2022. At the same time, we have been asked to reformulate a piece of this business which could further reduce expected future PLA revenue. This is one of the factors that Mike will discuss in his guidance section later in the call. As we look ahead in this environment of heightened geopolitical uncertainty and market volatility, we remain laser-focused on delivering what is within our control, including excellence of execution across the six strategic priorities of our growth strategy. We are focused on the immense long-term opportunity to transform the bioplastics market, and we are confident that we can continue working closely with our customers to overcome near-term volatility. We work with some of the world's largest consumer brands on our shared goal of addressing the global plastic waste crisis and could not be more thrilled about our company's potential to do just that as we progress further on our capacity expansion and contract negotiations. In addition to expanding our own capacity, we're also looking to create value for shareholders through successful R&D collaborations with large corporate partners that are looking for sustainable solutions. During the first quarter and into April, we expanded our partnership with Chimera to commercialize biodegradable aqueous coatings, and we announced our collaboration with Hyundai Oil Bank to drive global growth of PHA. We also made some key strategic hires, including our new CFO, Mike Hajos, as well as a new chief human resource officer as we continue to focus on expanding team capabilities to support growth. We made further progress towards scaling production at phase one of our Kentucky facility while ensuring phase two construction of our Kentucky operation advanced in line with our plan to bring the facility online and begin scaling up this quarter. Please turn to slide five. As you saw in our press release a week ago, we were happy to announce an exclusive license and supply agreement with Chimera to commercialize biodegradable aqueous barrier coatings to be used on pulp and paper and food and beverage applications globally. That is an approximately $500 million market and is expected to grow at a 10% rate annually. This builds on the success of our existing partnership that we have been working on since 2020 She developed a coating and surface treatment that ensures paper and board items, such as single-use coffee cups, are biodegradable in soil and water environments. In addition to its biodegradable and strong barrier properties, the new coatings are also repulpable, which enables paper recyclers to disintegrate the material for fiber recovery. This capability further enhances the sustainability of the material and enables brands to contribute to circular economy. Furthermore, the PHA coatings can replace polyethylene and provide a viable alternative to PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, which are increasingly being phased out in food packaging around the world due to potential health risks associated with their use. This expansion of our partnership with Chimera represents several important milestones in Danmarin's mission to reduce plastic waste. First, it represents the potential for PHA to serve as a sustainable alternative to traditional plastic across multiple product categories. Second, this new license and supply agreement lays the foundation for a new revenue stream where Dannemere will be cash flow positive from day one without significant CapEx investment while further supporting the global commercialization of this material. Tamara is an industry leader in the pulp and paper and aqueous coatings markets with a large sales force, technical support staff, and global production scale, making them the perfect partner to bring our solutions to market. We are grateful for their continued partnership and look forward to helping them bring these coatings to the food and beverage industries globally. Now, turning to our other customer and business development updates, I will speak to slide six. As a reminder, our customers are mainly major blue chip multinational brands that have all made long-term commitments to make their plastic packaging recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable. Interest in our products from both new and existing customers has only continued to grow as these corporations evaluate solutions to maintain their ESG commitments, particularly as an increasing number of municipalities implement regulations and other legislation to reduce the environmental impact of plastic waste. An example of this is the state of California's newly proposed legislation that would require all single-use plastic packaging and foodware used in the state to be recyclable, reusable, refillable, or compostable by 2030, and single-use plastic production to be reduced by 25% by 2030. As another example, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order in April that aims to increase biodegradable materials and recycling and lure clean energy businesses to the state of Virginia. Furthermore, California's Attorney General announced on April 28 that he issued a subpoena to ExxonMobil for information on its role in causing the global plastic waste crisis. These are just several recent examples of positive tailwinds for our business that are driving new customer inquiries. New customer inquiries were up nearly 20% in Q1 as compared to Q4 2021, another encouraging sign of the strong demand we are seeing for Dannemer's biodegradable solutions. Our converter partners are also seeing accelerated interest in PHA. A great example of this is the success our partner, WinCup, has achieved through their sales of biodegradable Nodax-based peat fade straws, which can now be found at Yankee Stadium, First Watch restaurants, Target Big Box Retailers, and Sam's Club Cafes, adding to an ever-growing list of restaurants and retailers across the country. We also continue to make progress with our multinational developmental partners like Mars Wrigley, PepsiCo, and numerous others. Last month, PepsiCo showcased their compostable laced chip bags using Dannemers technology during their participation at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in California, an event widely known for championing sustainability. The event was a great place to showcase PepsiCo and Danimer's partnership to produce sustainable solutions as PepsiCo continues to work toward their goal of designing 100% of their packaging to be recyclable, compostable, biodegradable, or reusable by 2025. Additionally, as we continue to explore a broad range of applications for our customers, we are pleased to announce that last month we signed a development agreement with Ego Products to develop soft lures for the fishing industry in an effort to provide a biodegradable alternative for traditional plastic PVC lures. We are encouraged about where we stand today with our many development agreements and the potential for a meaningful number of those commitments to transition into supply agreements. Moving to slide seven. Looking at our facility expansions at phase one of our Kentucky facility in February and March, we were very pleased with our production levels and were recently running above nameplate capacity in April. We continue to be comfortable we can run this plant at full capacity on a go-forward basis. Looking at Kentucky Phase 2, we're excited to note that construction is concluding, and we have already started the commissioning process of transitioning from construction to operations. We expect to begin producing product at Phase 2 starting in June. As we have discussed in the past, the completion of both phases will collectively bring our annual nameplate finished product capacity up to an expected 65 million pounds, which, as a reminder, is PHA plus other compounded degradable materials. We continue to expect the Kentucky facility to turn profitable on a standalone basis this year as we increase capacity and focus on driving operational efficiencies at the expanded facility. Turning to slide eight, I will take a moment to discuss the latest updates on our plans for the construction of the Greenfield facility in Bainbridge, Georgia. As we discussed with you last quarter, we still face uncertainty with respect to key equipment delivery delays and inflationary pressures. We remain committed to instituting this critical capacity for growth, but we plan to remain nimble and flexible as to the pace of capital spending on this project. For now, we have deemed it prudent to slow further construction in the near term to preserve cash. This can also provide us with the opportunity to capture and better apply learnings from the Kentucky expansion and the pilot plant. In addition, it can allow for further value engineering to maximize the efficiency of the plant and potentially reduce project costs. Based on our current plan, we now expect the Greenfield plant startup to occur in 2024. We're still confident in a long-term opportunity to improve our cost profile through combining Renovo with Nodax at commercial scale. Discussions are progressing with several major ethylene oxide producers in the U.S. Gulf Coast for EO offtake, site location, site colocation, and other ancillary agreements related to the manufacturing of renewable products. Overall, while we are focused on all six of our strategic priorities outlined earlier in the call, our primary focus in the near term is achieving profitability at the plant in Kentucky and continuing our negotiations with a major brand owner to sign up for a significant amount of volume as the anchor tenant for our planned greenfield facility. We expect our ability to accomplish these two key goals will help us secure the additional financing needed to advance our long-term capacity expansion plans. With that, let me turn the call over to Mike for an update on our financial results.
spk05: Thank you, Steve.
spk03: I'll speak to slide nine.
spk05: We closed out the quarter with a record first quarter sales of $14.7 million, which was an increase of 12% from the year-ago first quarter. PHA-based resin sales nearly doubled over this timeframe and now represent 52% of our revenues. This is a significant increase compared to 29% of revenues in the prior year quarter. The increase in sales of PHA-based resins more than offset a decline in PLA sales. which was due to the Ukraine factor that Steve described earlier, impacting this non-core part of our business. We reported a first quarter gross loss of approximately $1.3 million, compared to gross profit of $1.5 million in the prior year period. On an adjusted basis, gross profit was $2.6 million, representing an adjusted gross profit margin of 17.5%, compared to $3.9 million, or 29.2% in the prior year quarter. The decrease in margin was driven by lower PLA volumes that led to a lower margin for that product in the current quarter, combined with lower R&D and tolling services revenue, partially offset by higher PHA volumes and improved margins. As we have mentioned previously, we expect our average cost per unit at our existing facilities to improve as production scales. We're already seeing those unit costs go down. For a better understanding of our progress, I'll provide a sequential quarter comparison. PHA represented roughly half of our sales in both the first quarter of 2022 and the fourth quarter of 2021. During the first quarter, adjusted gross margin increased sequentially to 17.5%, which is up from 2.3% in the fourth quarter. This was largely attributable to higher cost PHA material getting worked out of our inventory and replaced by more efficiently produced and lower cost inventory associated with a higher capacity utilization from our phase one Kentucky operation. We expect this trend to continue and to more than offset the incremental costs associated with the startup of our phase two Kentucky operations. Adjusted gross profit in the first quarter 2022 excludes a $1 million PLA additive inventory reserve associated with an anticipated decline in our PLA-based resin business due to conflict in Ukraine, as well as the expected reformulation of certain PLA products. For the first quarter of 2022, R&D and SG&A expenses, excluding depreciation, amortization, stock-based compensation, rent, and one-time items, were $12.3 million compared to $5.4 million in the prior year quarter, mainly attributable to an increase in headcount and salaries to support R&D efforts and our future expansion plans, as well as increases in costs associated with having a larger asset base, such as property and liability insurance. In addition, we incurred approximately $1.3 million of R&D and operating expenses as a result of consolidating Dannemer Catalytic Technologies in our first quarter financial results, which we did not incur in the prior year quarter. The adjusted EBITDA loss for the first quarter was $10.6 million, compared to a loss of $2.3 million in the prior year quarter, primarily due to the factors I've discussed in our gross profit, SG&A, and R&D results. Adjusted EBITDA excludes dot-com, other income, and other add-backs as reconciled in the appendix. First quarter adjusted EBITDAR was a loss of $9.7 million compared to a loss of $1.6 million in the first quarter of 2021. We add back our rent expense because it is primarily related to a sale-leaseback agreement associated with the Kentucky facility and thus is essentially a replacement of depreciation and interest expenses. Our total debt outstanding was approximately $261.7 million at quarter end, net of $10.1 million of unamortized debt issuance costs, and includes $21 million of low-interest new markets tax credit loans that we expect will be forgiven in 2026. Our cash position at the end of the first quarter was $210 million. As you know, we did not provide forward-looking guidance during our call back in March. As I had just assumed a position as CFO at that time, I wanted to become more familiar with the business and spend more time with the team refining our forecast model. I was able to accomplish that, and based on that assessment, I want to walk through my current view on the full-year forecast of adjusted EBITDA, capex spend, and expected end-of-year cash balance. Looking at our outlook for the full year of 2022 on slide 10, We remain excited by the profit potential of this business in coming years. We believe we are making disciplined investments that will allow us to capture the incredible opportunity for our products. As we view full year 2022, we expect this to be another year of sound investment with an intense focus on getting our PHA business to profitability. As Steve mentioned earlier, we have several factors at play this year, so to provide a clear view of our financial expectations, we are introducing a guidance framework for 2022 and beyond. For the full year 2022, we expect adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of negative $45 million to negative $35 million. As a bright spot, we reiterate our expectation for the Kentucky facility to turn profitable as we increase capacity and drive operational efficiencies at the expanded facility. is a solid step in the right direction and a stepping stone to our overall profit trajectory in the out years. For 2022, the positive year-over-year contribution from higher PHA resin volumes will be more than offset by several dynamics. First, the portion of PLA sales that were negatively impacted in Q1 by the war in Ukraine are not expected to return in 2022. Combined with the anticipated reformulation of a portion of PLA business, this will further reduce PLA volumes. Next, over the past year, we have invested heavily in our organization to support our future expansion plans. In 2022, we will have a full year of expense associated with higher headcounts and other costs to support our asset base. That compares to only a partial year of expense in 2021. November, which we now refer to as Dannemer Catalytic Technologies, is a key part of our growth story. We are making investments in R&D and other operating expenses. In addition, we're getting sample products from our pilot plants and taking the needed steps to strengthen our formulations for customers. 2022 will incur a full year of consolidated costs from the newly formed Dannemer Catalytic Technologies operations. compared to a partial year in 2021. Regarding cash flow, we expect capital expenditures in 2022 to be in the range of $190 to $200 million, inclusive of capitalized interest and internal labor. As we discussed last quarter, we will remain flexible with our spend so we can speed up or slow down the greenfield construction, given the rising cost environment and supply chain uncertainties that are impacting the build-out of that plant. With the flexibility in our spend, we expect to end the year 2022 with cash in excess of $50 million. We believe our adjusted EBITDA and CapEx outlook, which provides a constructive framework for improved results for our PHA business, combined with the investments we're making elsewhere in our business, have us on a path to profitability in coming years. Looking beyond 2022, We expect our PHA revenue to drive a significant increase in our overall profitability. PLA revenues will likely remain challenged. We have already made significant investments in our SG&A and R&D that we can now leverage over time as revenues grow. And our investments in our Danimer catalytic technologies are progressing. We expect this business to contribute meaningfully to our results in the coming years. We are confident in our ability to execute against our objectives with a prudent focus on profitability and cash management. Now, I'll turn the call back to Steve for closing remarks on slide 11.
spk03: Thanks, Mike. In conclusion, our continued expansion of production capacity, application development expertise, contracted revenue streams, and future efficiencies of scale should continue to shape our bright path forward as an increasing number of companies evaluate solutions to maintain their ESG commitments using our superior biodegradable alternatives to traditional plastics. We will continue to build off of a record 2021 as we move through this year, and I would reiterate that we are still in the very early stages of a unique opportunity to create long-term shareholder value. Thank you for your time today, and we look forward to updating you on our progress next quarter.
spk06: We will now open up the line for questions. Thank you. At this time, we will be conducting a question and answer.
spk08: If you would like to ask a question, please press star 1 on your telephone pad. A confirmation tone will indicate the line is in the question queue. You may press star 2 if you would like to remove your question from the queue. For participants using the speaker equipment, it may be necessary to pick up your handset before pressing the start keys. Please limit to one question and one follow-up question per person. If you wish to ask further questions, please rejoin the queue.
spk06: One moment, please, while we call for questions. Your first question comes from John Tanawang from CJS Securities.
spk02: Please go ahead. Hi, good afternoon, guys. Thank you for taking my questions. My first one is, could you give a little bit more color on the reasons for the sequential decrease in both PHA and PLA? I think we've got the high level reasoning behind both of them, but I was wondering if you could, for PHA specifically, how, you know, permanent is that situation? Is it going to relieve itself soon? And then for PLA, what was the size of that impact and kind of what is the ongoing expectation for the rest of the year for the PLA business?
spk03: John, thanks for the question. As far as the PLA business, the guidance is reflected in the EBITDA guidance that Mike gave reflects our expectations relative to that business going forward. At this point, it's pretty clear that the portion affected by the war won't come back this year, but the portion that's reflected by the reformulation is just unknown at this point in time. We're going to have an opportunity to re-bid on that business, and we may retain a piece of it. As far as the PHA business, I think you're referring to the supply chain issues that some of our converters had procuring equipment. We've got an equipment manufacturer out of Taiwan that's been making a special straw machine to run PHA that a lot of our customers have been purchasing. And there's just been delays there in the scale up with our customers, kind of compounded by some of the things going on with COVID in that it's been difficult for their techs to come visit our customers and help them get the equipment up and running. I would expect to still see some drag from that in this current quarter, even though we do see them improving, but I would still expect some drag from that in this quarter. But, you know, these are not strategic problems, but just, you know, tactical execution things that we'll get through with no problem.
spk02: Okay, understood. You've been pretty vocal in the past about your Kentucky facilities being sold out at some future point. I was wondering, when do you expect to be there? And, you know, just what does the ramp look like as we head towards there?
spk03: Well, as you know, we have over 200 million dollars of contracts in hand. The, you know, the only issue that we've had with those contracts is that, as you know, we start, we first brought this plant online right in the middle of, right like two days before COVID started. So, with respect to the timing of those contracts come online, we've had to be very flexible with our customer. We kind of had to make a choice between You know, enforcing the contracts, we're working together to get through what was certainly an unprecedented experience. So, at this point in time, you know, we see the launches coming out into the future. I would say kind of between Q3 and Q1 next year, we see several launches getting ready to happen. But since we don't simply control that, it's hard for us to give you guidance on that specifically.
spk02: Okay, understood. Could you talk a little bit more about the CAMERA and the Hyundai Oil Bank agreements? Are there any off-taker contracts associated with that, or are they more R&D contracts with off-take options? And is any of that slated for the greenfield at all?
spk03: Yeah, the CAMERA contract has a supply agreement with it. And, you know, we would expect that to get us, you know, by the time that we get towards the latter years of that contract, we would be well into the green field. This contract is an expansion of our ongoing collaboration with Chimera. Our original agreement involved our plan to develop biodegradable aqueous coatings, and that project was a success. The new agreement really sets the stage to just follow up on that success by commercializing this product in Europe. the middle east and north and south america so our prior work validated the demand and we couldn't be happier with this partnership camara is a great company this will be one of those things that helps us accelerate our speed to market uh camara has uh 5 000 employees versus danvers like 284 and multiple locations all over the world uh the hyundai agreement is um you know, really a memorandum of understanding. So there's no offtake agreement associated with it at this time. The idea there is that the first step, which we're in the middle of, is doing some market analysis and then turn it to customer trials where we'll work together with Hyundai to engage with customers, you know, experimenting with PHA products And I'm sure we probably will start out in South Korea, but it's not limited to that. It could be anywhere in Asia. With the idea then to progress from there to potential construction of a plant, which could be any possible combination of things of how that could be structured, whether it's a joint venture or a license or any other sort of investment on their part.
spk06: Thank you. Your next question comes from Lawrence Alexander with Jefferies.
spk08: Please go ahead.
spk00: Good afternoon. I guess the first one, just on the Chimera, that $500 million, is that the sale of the product, or is that the potential market size for Dannemer's ingredients in the product?
spk03: That would be the market size for the coatings, Lawrence. Thank you. It does not include the paper, just to be clear.
spk00: Understood. And can you give a sense for, and so just to be clear, Danimer would be producing the coatings, or are you just producing one ingredient that's used to make the coatings?
spk03: Ultimately, we would just be producing the PHA, and Chimera would produce the actual aqueous coating. And right now, today, as we sit here, we are making the coatings, but that'll change.
spk00: Understood. And can you give a sense for the, you know, how you envisage the catalytic technologies business model playing out over, say, the next four or five years? You know, just in terms of sort of potential either licensing or revenue like timelines for what you hope to see and what you would be disappointed to not see from that business.
spk03: Yeah, let me Let me just kind of talk about where we see that business going right now, and I'll try to round out to get to your specific question. So, since the acquisition, we've been exploring several options for site selection for the first plant. This process has resulted in substantial conversations with several companies that have strategic interest in the technology. We're also discussing actual straight licenses to companies that are interested in building plants. I'm super excited about this particular piece of business because of the low cost of construction and production costs, and I think it's going to play a very, very important role in our future growth, not just in combination with NODACs in our formulations, but as a standalone profit center basically licensing this technology. As you've heard me talk about in the past, I think this particular technology is just a fantastic fit with the kind of existing fossil fuel and big chemical industry because they already have the raw materials and the technology to make this product and you know how much pressure they're all under to be green. So we get a tremendous amount of interest in that technology. I don't think we're ready to give specific guidance, Lawrence, on when we can expect the first licensing agreement to be done or anything like that, but we are in serious negotiations with several parties on it.
spk06: Great. Thank you. Thank you. Your next question comes from Thomas Boyes with Cohen & Company.
spk08: Please go ahead.
spk01: Thank you very much for taking my questions. Nice to see obviously Phase 2 in Kentucky is on track still. Given all the learnings that you have from Phase 1, how quickly do you anticipate being able to reach, you know, 100% capacity? Or maybe it's a follow-on to that. You know, do you need 100% capacity to hit that EBITDA profitability number? Or is it actually a much lower number? Or should I think about it more holistically at kind of a broader plant level?
spk03: Yeah, it's a much lower number than full capacity, Thomas. So we certainly do not need full capacity. In fact, our models, the way we've always modeled this, you know, I would think at this point is conservative. But we modeled these scale-ups to get to about 90% of nameplate in about two years. Now, if you look back at what happened with phase one, that's pretty much what we did. I mean, we actually ran over 100% in April, which would be two years and one month since we turned that thing on. So we're very happy with that progress, especially given the circumstances in which we did it. The first nine months that plant was running, we didn't have any cash. So we weren't spending any money trying to ramp it up. And then as that year 2020 progressed, COVID got worse and worse. And so we did that right in the middle of COVID and did it in that time span. So that should encourage everybody that we would be able to scale phase two up more quickly. than what we are budgeting. And in addition, just to give a little color on it, I will point out that all of the downstream equipment is the same equipment that we have in phase one. Maybe the only difference in kind of the whole process is that the dryers are a little bigger, but they're the same dryers. They're just longer than the dryers that we have now. You know, we ought to be able to scale that more quickly than that 2 year period.
spk01: Got it. Now, you actually had mentioned in previous calls that downstream equipment is running significantly faster than it was kind of originally expected and then maybe longer term versus the nameplate capacity of the facility you could operate. you know, at a greater rate than that. If you're over 100% now in phase one, is that something that you could theoretically continue longer term or using some of the construction that's in phase two that's completed just to run more product through?
spk03: Yeah, I would expect that we could repeat that. And just to clarify the way that we designed the plant, we designed downstream to actually, we set it up so that fermentation was the bottleneck. we designed downstream to be greater than fermentation because, um, you can always add another dryer or, or, you know, add, add some other piece of equipment. But if you know, you have to remember here, the real work is being done by the microorganism. The polymer synthesis is taking place in fermentation. That's where the real work is taking place. And if you, if you achieve significant improvements in fermentation on yield, You've got nowhere to go with it if you can't run it through downstream processing. So, we intentionally designed downstream processing to not be the choke point here.
spk01: Got it. And then, obviously, I appreciate some of the timing changes as it relates to the greenfield facility, but I was just wondering if you had maybe any update on the potential for a DOE loan, you know, phase 1 of their process versus their phase 2, or Even a sense of what that loan size could look like or is it predicated on an anchor tenant? Do you think to move forward or any insight there would be helpful?
spk03: Yeah, thanks Thomas. It's a good question We you know, I've been saying that we are very confident in getting a phase one approval letter and I would say today that our confidence is even greater that that's going to happen very soon and But the piece that I have always cautioned on is until we get that and get into phase two, we won't have a good sense for what all the requirements might be to close. I guess the good news is we'll have plenty of time to work through any issues. And so when we get the approval, we'll quickly work to assess kind of what the weak points might be in terms of the contingencies. and start addressing those. So we're pretty confident we're at least going to get that opportunity.
spk01: Great. Appreciate the insight. If I could squeeze one more quick one in here just on canola pricing, any insight there? I know in the past you've been able to pass along some of the kind of the increases along to customers. Is that still the case? And how do you think that is, you know, moving through time?
spk05: Yeah, Mike, why don't you take that one? Yeah, sure. Thanks, Thomas. Great question. Yeah, I think overall, we've been kind of able to stay kind of below the curve here in terms of our pricing, in terms of where futures have gone and the spot prices in the market. And, you know, I think our average price in Q1 was 59 cents. And I think that was, you know, well below the prices seen in the quarter as the war in Ukraine started. We locked in Q2 at an average of about 78 cents per pound, which is lower than the kind of the current market or the futures price, which is now over a dollar. Q3, we locked in at around $0.91 per pound, which is, again, looking at the futures, just about $1.17. And for Q4, we're at an average of about $0.86, which was lower than the futures of about $1.09. So I think you can see that we're doing a decent job of kind of staying ahead of all of that. We are starting to evaluate the timing to start locking in actually Q1 of 23. And, you know, just talking to our broker, about two to four weeks or so, they're saying our suppliers know the crop planted volumes. If we're locked in now, they're saying, hey, hold off. It's a little high. It's about $1.02 to $1.04. And they think there's about a 10-cent premium, you know, in that current price. So, you know, one to two months ago, that estimate was actually 85 to 89 cents. So I think there's a chance, you know, we're expecting that we can, you know, probably sometime in mid-2020, mid-May to mid-June timeframe, you know, getting a better price point than what we have right now and start to take some of that risk off. Having said all that, you know, we do have pass-through mechanisms that are sales contracts that provide for price escalators, de-escalators for the major cost components not under our control. And I think we see evidence of those working. Our PHA ASPs are trending up into Q2 compared to Q4. You know, as those prices are going up, we're able to pass those along. So I hope that answers your questions.
spk01: Absolutely. I appreciate the call. I'll hop back in here.
spk08: All right. Thanks, Thomas. Thank you. Your next question is a follow-up question from John from CJS Securities. Please go ahead.
spk02: Hey, guys. Thanks for the follow-up, and it's good to hear you're making progress on the DOE loan. The question I have is, what kind of PHA volumes are implied in the guidance? It doesn't have to be exactly, maybe a range.
spk05: Yeah, you know, we're not, you know, we've made a point really not to guide on sales or volumes. Obviously, the volumes are going to be, you know, higher as we bring out the capacity. As you say, we're kind of running at capacity right now in phase one. We're not building up inventories at that plant. And, you know, we're going to scale up phase two here as we go. And we feel like the pace of that scale up and the incremental cost associated with that will not be destructive to our margins. As a matter of fact, we continue to think that we can improve both the volumes and the margins on that product as we kind of go through the rest of this year. So the PHA portion of the guidance is the positive spot. And obviously, as we talk about further down into 2023, that's the huge driver in terms of the increased profitability of this company. So, you know, really don't want to get too granular in terms of the breakout of those different pieces there, but that's certainly, you know, a nice chunk there. And, you know, unfortunately for this year, we're seeing great promise there, but as Steve outlined, you know, we are seeing some challenges, though, on the PLA business related to war and this potential, you know, change in the formulation. But, you know, as I kind of talked about in my remarks, we do have a lot of other year-over-year things that are challenging us this year that We'll start to mitigate as we get into next year. You know, we're not going to see, you know, the types of increases in the overhead. You know, we built a lot of that, you know, a lot of those costs in already to kind of be there and built in to be absorbed by a larger business. And they become a smaller, you know, percentage of the sales. And, again, it's the PHA, though, it's kind of more or less a more fixed base that's kind of going to grow the profitability of the business longer term.
spk02: Got it. I was also wondering, when in 2024 do you expect the greenfield to start? And then maybe as a follow up to that, is it possible to get renovo sales and revenue even before that if you're pursuing licensing agreements?
spk03: I think it would be likely that we would see some renovo revenue, not from a plant, but from licensing agreements. by 2024. We're not guiding right at this point about when in 2024 the plant will come online, just given the uncertainties in the current economy. But, you know, we're paying close attention to the cost of materials and equipment and obviously, you know, very closely monitoring our cash position to make sure that we're being prudent about that spend.
spk06: Okay, great. Thank you. All right, thanks. Thank you.
spk08: Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the end of the question-and-answer session. I would like to turn the call back to Mr. Cosgrove for closing remarks.
spk03: Thanks again for everyone for joining us today. I'd like to thank you for your continued interest in Dannemere Scientific, and we look forward to updating you on our progress next quarter.
spk06: Thank you. This concludes the main conference. You may disconnect your lines at this time.

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