Eco Investor Update
A Weekly News Update for Environmental Investors
May 2012 - No 82
Sims Metal Management
This is due to the continuation of global economic challenges, and after including a $36 million gain on the sale of a business in February (not $32 million as previously advised), and after adding back goodwill impairment charges provided for in the first half of 2011-12.
The update is based on only 10 months of results. Sims said the results for the rest of 2011-12 may be impacted by global economic events and specific factors including trading illiquidity and softness in deep sea ferrous markets, the current weakness in ferrous metal prices, gains or losses in non-ferrous and precious metal commodity hedges and derivatives in connection with the investment in Chiho-Tiande Group, volatility in currency markets, and the timing and recognition of cargo and container shipments.
Sims expects to release its 2012 results on 23 August.
The update saw Sims' share price fall to a six month low of $11.42.
A few day prior to the update, broker Ord Minnett released a Private Client Research note saying that Sims' US recycling peer Schnitzer Steel Industries had provided a dour May quarter trading update by pointing to a 35 per cent quarter-on-quarter fall in ferrous margins.
"Despite forecasting bottom of consensus full year 2012 earnings we have further downgraded our second half forecasts to reflect the likely margin squeeze for SGM," said Ord Minnett.
"Schnitzer's May quarter guidance also indicated a 1015 per cent decline in non-ferrous volumes and ferrous operating margins of US$811/t compared to the February quarter's around US$14/t. Schnitzer noted soft global demand for recycled metals and lower than normal spring scrap flows.
"The guidance and commentary from Schnitzer regarding its May quarter implies that competition is fierce for lower than anticipated arisings which will be driving up buy prices and compressing margins.
"Our previous full year earnings per share forecast of 58 cents per share was at the bottom of consensus expectations, around 24 per cent below the median expectation. It is clearly still tough times for US recycling and macro sentiment is not helping a leveraged play like SGM currently.
"The current share price range of $1213 per share factors in current margin environment into perpetuity whereas our net asset value of $21 per share assumes an eventual recovery to around two times the current margin environment which is a little lower than historical averages," said Ord Minnett.
The broker downgraded its 2011-12 normalized earnings forecast by 26 per cent based on the US$8/t reduction in its second half ferrous margin forecast. It also downgraded its 2012-13 earnings forecast by 15 per cent based on a deferral of margin recovery.
"We recognize it is a challenging environment in which to gain comfort around the outlook for a stock like SGM. We also believe, however, that the share price decline in recent weeks has accounted for a significant proportion of this negative outlook," it said.
Ord Minnett downgraded its recommendation from Accumulate to Hold. (ASX: SGM)
The planned sale of the properties was previously announced as part of the restructuring of GWA's Australian operations. Although GWA will continue to operate out of the sites under lease agreements, these will be exited in the future for more suitable locations.
Managing director Peter Crowley said "We have been successful over the years with improving our competitiveness through restructuring whilst offsetting the funding and balance sheet impact with the sale of surplus properties. The Norwood and Coburg property sales have been successful in a difficult market, which reflects their quality and higher end use to developers." (ASX: GWA)
Unlisted Share Funds
Climate Advocacy Fund
The resolutions call for the removal of five directors and their replacement with five nominees.
Australian Ethical Investment is the manager of the Climate Advocacy Fund.
Unlisted Property Funds
Aspen Parks Property Fund
Aspen said the strong equity inflows support asset growth and it is pursuing acquisitions to complement portfolio diversification, and progressing planning and development opportunities in the portfolio.
The Fund's 2011-12 trading performance is on track, with major growth in revenue driven by mining related properties. The 2011-12 distribution payout ratio is 82 per cent.
Regal Funds Management has reduced its stake from 10.72 to 9.59 per cent. (ASX: CMV)
Mr Niederer is associated with Allabah Pty Ltd, which has become a substantial shareholder with a 19.99 per cent interest.
The Environmental Group extended "its utmost appreciation to Bill and Alex for their immense contribution to the development of EGL".
The Environmental Group's subsidiary, EGL Water Operations Pty Ltd, has appointed Christopher Palmer of O'Brien Palmer as Receiver and Manager of EGL Management Services Pty Ltd. (ASX: EGL)
The following directors have resigned: Dr Lakshman Jayaweera, Timothy Allen, Stephen Kwan, Pipvide Tang, and the executive service contracts for Dr Jayaweera and Mr Tang have been terminated.
The following have been appointed as directors: Simon Henry, William Hundy, Kenneth Lane, and Andrew Draffin. (ASX: HMC)
Unlisted Share Funds
Australian Ethical Smaller
The resolutions call for the removal of five directors and their replacement with five nominees.
Australian Ethical Investment is the manager of the Australian Ethical Smaller Companies Fund.
Ceramic Fuel Cells
The draft report recommends that electricity retailers offer a wholesale price based feed in tariff for distributed generation of 100 kilowatts or less. The wholesale price of electricity varies with time, location, and the type of generation technology, and is currently about seven cents per kilowatt hour.
Ceramic Fuel Cells said its BlueGen gas-to-electricity generator would be eligible for the feed in tariff, which would make Victoria the first Australian state to provide a feed in tariff for fuel cells.
Ceramic Fuel Cells said the draft report adopts several of its recommendations including: Extending the standard feed in tariff regime to include small scale low emissions technologies; Defining small scale' as 100 kilowatts or less; Defining low emission' as 50 per cent or lower than the emissions intensity of the national electricity network; and Simplifying the process for connecting small scale generators to the power grid.
Managing director Brendan Dow said a fair feed in tariff will deliver value for BlueGen residential customers. "The VCEC report is certainly a step in the right direction, although we believe the proposal to only pay the wholesale rate for power about seven cents does not reflect the benefits of increased network efficiency from distributed generation."
"We look forward to our ongoing consultation with VCEC and to the Victorian Government adopting the report and delivering a feed in tariff for our locally developed clean energy technology."
The VCEC is seeking submissions on its draft report by 15 June and will make its final report to Government in July.
BlueGen units are operating with customers in Melbourne, Shepparton, Canberra, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane, and in nine other countries worldwide. In Australia BlueGen units are available to commercial and government customers through distributors Harvey Norman Commercial and Hills Solar. (ASX: CFU)
Micro Cap Companies
Clean Seas Tuna
The appointment of new chairman, Paul Steere, was effective on 22 May and followed the previously announced retirement of John Ellice-Flint from the board.
In regard to Clean Seas' core objective of commercializing the breeding of Southern Bluefin Tuna, Mr Steere said that "Although Clean Seas is taking longer to produce significant quantities of viable SBT juveniles than was envisaged by the founding directors, achievements compare favourably with the progress being made by the Europeans with Northern Bluefin Tuna. Our SBT program continues to hold the promise of substantial upside for shareholders."
Mr Steere said he is able to draw on 17 years of experience in the New Zealand salmon aquaculture industry, where he remains a non-executive director of New Zealand-based King Salmon, which is New Zealand's largest and most successful king salmon producer.
"During the early years of my 15 year executive role with King Salmon, we met and successfully addressed many of the biological and financial challenges now being faced by Clean Seas in developing Yellowtail Kingfish as a new species for the Australian aquaculture industry."
"My role as chairman of this publicly listed Australian aquaculture company, which is still in the research and development phase, is challenging in that there will be setbacks that will need to be overcome before we have a long term sustainable business. I am looking forward to working with the board and the Clean Seas senior executive team on behalf of shareholders to achieve this result."
A progress report of the Strategic Review prepared by the chief executive officer, Dr Craig Foster, was considered by the board on 22 May.
The board endorsed the CEO's recommendation that the Arno Bay facilities in SA be dedicated to the production of SBT fingerlings in the coming season by transfering to Port Augusta the Yellowtail Kingfish fingerling production for commercial grow-out.
"A small number of SBT juveniles have survived to date in a flow-through pond onshore at Arno Bay, but the mortality rate is now increasing with the colder temperatures. It is not expected that any of the remaining fish will survive the 2012 winter," he said.
Thus the board also endorsed the recomendation that the spawning season for SBT should aim to commence in early spring 2012 to achieve viable fingerlings for the transfer to seacages in early summer. If successful, it is anticipated that the juveniles will be increasingly more robust to survive the 2013 winter - which is the next key step in the commercialization of the species.
Although there may be a biological risk in coaxing forward the spawning season, the company has advice that it will cause no significant harm to the broodstock and it is likely that the biological clocks for the stock will be reset for spawning in September/ October 2013. The initiative will be monitored to protect the broodstock.
The board also endorsed a recommendation to retain its SBT quota for catch and grow, and subject to finance, look to materially expand this activity as a potential source of future cashflow to assist with the SBT lifecycle commercialization plus familiarization with SBT grow-out.
The Strategic Review confirmed the potential of Yellowtail Kingfish as a suitable species for sustainable long term aquaculture production either through seacage grow-out, as is done at present, or, and potentially more profitably, through onshore production in purpose-designed recirculation grow-out facilities.
The gut enteritis health issues have continued to worsen, he said, with unacceptably high mortality rates and disappointing average growth from remaining fish stocks.
A secondary infestation due to the weakened condition of the fish has been identified and is being treated by the fish health team. Testing indicates it is not viral and the company is hopeful of understanding the primary and secondary diseases over the next three months. Worldwide assistance is being coordinated through Seafood CRC.
"These health issues are most distressing to the company, especially as the acceptance of the Clean Seas brand in the marketplace for Yellowtail Kingfish has been hard earned and the farmgate prices continue to rise to a level that would have been profitable in ordinary growing conditions," said Mr Steere.
In line with the Strategic Review, the board has endorsed that maximum effort be directed to overcome the gut enteritis issue; fingerling production for the coming season be moved from Arno Bay to Port Augusta and production be materially reduced to around 100,000 fingerlings unless the gut enteritis and secondary issues are manageable.
In addition, assets that can't
be used in future SBT production will be re-valued to their estimated
realizable value as at 30 June. Although the company believes a fish health
solution will be achieved, it can't be sure about timing, so a conservative
write down will be made.
When the health issues are resolved, Clean Seas may seek a national or international funding partner or joint venture to profitably develop the Kingfish species.
The company has materially revised its profit guidance. The health issues mean the company has lost 38 per cent of its 2012 production and 17 per cent of its 2011 kingfish. It missed its growth expectations by about 1,000 tonnes, and the total losses from health issues for 2011- 12 are likely to be in the order of $14 million.
It is expected that the consolidated underlying loss will be similar to that of 2010-11, which was $14.7 million before tax. However, the 2011-12 statutory results will also be impacted by a material write-off for kingfish assets, possibly up to $17.5 million. "This impairment will be primarily in respect of historical intangible assets comprising grow-out licences and leased marina infrastructure."
Mr Steere said the board "considers that the current share price of around three cents per share is well below the current asset value of the company after these write offs and without regard for the intellectual property and other intangibles the company has accumulated."
Otherwise, Clean Seas Tuna continues to operate debt free and pay its trade creditors and other obligations on a timely basis, he said.
"The sell down of the Yellowtail Kingfish inventory and surplus assets is forecast to generate sufficient cash to meet the projected requirements of the business into CY2013. The board is particularly disappointed that the scale back of its Yellowtail Kingfish operations is leading to a material contraction in its workforce," said Mr Steere. (ASX: CSS)
Credit Suisse World Water
The units, initially floated at $1, ended at 98 cents. (ASX: CSW)
La Jolla had been providing funding under a convertible note until it recently failed to make payment.
Intermoco said La Jolla initially responded to its claims for payment by sending a draft unsigned note claiming Intermoco was in default under the Funding Agreement due to an argument that Intermoco was not "quoted" on the ASX. Intermoco rejected this as without foundation.
La Jolla has withdrawn that assertion and asserted that the lack of bid prices for INT stock is a Material Adverse Effect under the Funding Agreement. Intermoco again rejects this claim. La Jolla also advised that it would not fund Intermoco under the Funding Agreement unless there is a bid price.
Intermoco chairman John Evans said Intermoco's opinion is that La Jolla remains in default of its obligations under the agreement.
Meanwhile Intermoco has placed $310,000 of the shortfall under its recent rights issue, bringing the total raised to $710,000.
Director, Simon Kemp, indirectly acquired 3,341,415 shares in the rights issue. (ASX: INT)
Orbital is to supply heavy fuel engines for AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems' (AAI) Aerosonde Small Unmanned Aircraft System (SUAS). The value of the new contract is up to $4.7 million in 2012.
AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems, a part of Textron Systems and Textron Inc., recently won large military contracts from the US Navy and Special Operations Command to provide operations utilizing the newest configuration of its Aerosonde SUAS.
The new engine and system uses Orbital's FlexDI Engine Management system to enable spark ignition operation of heavy fuels such as JP5 (naval operations) and JP8 (land based operations). This satisfies a US Department of Defence initiative to eliminate gasoline fuels for safety and logistic reasons. This is also known as the "one fuel" policy.
Orbital said the small but powerful engine is light weight, with its size, weight and fuel efficiency providing the required range and payload capability for the aircraft. The Orbital technology can increase the range on a typical mission by 40 per cent over current technology, or can allow AAI to increase the payload.
Orbital's FlexDI technology has been proven in more than 650,000 engine applications in the recreation, marine, motorcycle consumer markets, said Terry Stinson, CEO and managing director of Orbital.
"New ground had to be broken with AAI to meet their aggressive SUAS engine requirements, and we have been able to successfully develop and supply the demonstration engines from our Perth facility. This success now leads to production supply of engine systems. This is a good example of Australian innovation, and demonstrates Orbital's engineering and product development capabilities."
"The small unmanned aerial systems market is an emerging market for Orbital and we look forward to realizing this potential." said Mr Stinson.
Orbital has also provided a market update for 2011-12. While Consulting Services had an order book lower than historical levels, the new $4.7 million contract means the order book is back on target; although the revenue will not be recorded until 2012-13.
Meanwhile, revenue from the Orbital Consulting Services business in the current half year will be significantly below target and result in a negative segment result for the second half.
Alternative Fuels also has issues. The LPG market has remained subdued with LPG conversions and Ford volumes at lower levels than recent years. "Orbital's aftermarket and OE Alternative Fuels businesses have managed their operating costs and despite the subdued markets are expected to generate a positive result for the second half and full year," said Mr Stinson.
Synerject sales in the second half are lower than the record first half and last year with contraction in the Taiwanese scooter market not being fully offset by improvements in the marine and recreational markets. Synerject continues to be profitable and cash flow positive however the equity accounted profit from Synerject will be lower than the second half last year, he said. (ASX: OEC)
Operationally, the company is to deploy a building integrated energy storage system (BIES) in the new Global Change Institute the "Living Building" - on the St Lucia campus of The University of Queensland. The total contract value is $670,000.
Based on RedFlow's M-class technology, the 120 kW system will have 36 Gen 2 RedFlow ZBM batteries and should be installed by October.
The demonstration unit is one of a number RedFlow aims to deploy with partners and end-user customers, said the company. The demonstration systems provide long-term, real world testing and are a crucial step towards commercial deployment of its batteries.
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland said the Living Building project is designed to be carbon neutral and become certified by the Living Building Challenge. "Having building integrated energy storage is an important component that contributes towards achieving that goal and the RedFlow M- class system meets that need well." he said. (ASX: RFX)
The lithium carbonate was produced using spodumene concentrate from Galaxy's wholly-owned Mt Cattlin mine in WA. The first seven tonnes of lithium carbonate f was sold to a Chinese customer as technical grade lithium carbonate, despite the product exceeding expectations by meeting battery grade level purity.
Galaxy said the quality of the batch averaged 99.5 per cent purity. In addition, sodium, magnesium, iron, and sulphate impurity levels were lower-than-expected.
Galaxy said it achieved battery grade level purity even though the purification units installed to achieve battery grade quality and remove impurities were not used at this stage. The purification units will be brought on line in the next few weeks as part of the ramp up.
Managing director, Iggy Tan said "This first sale represents the first cash flow from the processing of Mt Cattlin concentrate into lithium carbonate at the Jiangsu operation and is another step forward with our business plan of developing Galaxy as a fully integrated lithium company.
"We continue to ramp up throughput and lithium carbonate production and remain on track to reach the 17,000 tonne per annum design capacity within 12 months."
Galaxy has long term offtake framework agreements with 13 major cathode producers in China and Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan for 100 per cent of Jiangsu's design capacity.
Stock broker EL & C Baillieu has produced a report on Galaxy that is on Galaxy's website. (ASX: GXY)
Micro Cap Companies
It is the preferred tenderer for four very large Exploration Permits covering 31,280 square kilometres "in potential shale gas and oil basins".
Native Title Agreements and Environmental Authorities will be required before the permits can be granted by the Qld government, and Blue Energy said it intends to commence the processes to obtain these as soon as possible.
The company's interest in oil as well as gas is a concern. Eco Investor will monitor this and cease coverage if the company's attitude to oil is not compatible with our environmental criteria. (ASX: BUL)
Carnegie Wave Energy
"We believe this action will further relieve downwards pressure on the company's share price and allow it to recover to a level that better reflects Dyesol's outstanding prospects." said chairman Richard Caldwell. (ASX: DYE)
Earth Heat Resources
The initial allotment is for approximately 50 MWe with potential for further expansion.and will be supplied from Earth Heat's geothermal power project in Argentina.
The parties can enter a binding power purchase agreement (PPA) contingent on Xstrata Copper's decision to advance development of the El Pachón Project post receipt of the Environmental Impact Assessment Approval.
General Manager of Pachon, Xavier Ochoa, said "We are committed to finding the best environmental, social and economic solutions in support of our potential future investments in Argentina and look forward to working with Earth Heat in the first geothermal plant in the country".
Earth Heat managing director Torey Marshall said "Both Earth Heat and Xstrata Copper share the view that a sustainable energy environment in Argentina can be supported by investment into high quality renewable energy projects, in particular geothermal. We look forward to working towards a closer relationship as we jointly negotiate a Power Purchase Agreement." (ASX: EHR)
The company is now looking
for opportunities to licence the intellectual property in the biodegradable
technology. "The directors believe that commercializing this technology
It continues to look for acquisitions of leading-edge technologies to generate revenue. (ASX: ECQ)
Asia Union Investments Pty Ltd has increased its holding from 6.7 to 7.9 per cent. (ASX: KTE)
The next day KUTh announced that the World Banl report had endorsed its proposed geothermal project in Vanuatu and had been adoped by the Vanuatu Government.
The study confirmed that KUTh's
exploration and development strategy is sound, but said further exploration
is needed to establish the size and commercial viability of the geothermal
The analysis showed that an 8 MW geothermal project at Takara would yield positive economic benefits and be the economically least cost option for new power generation.
The next steps involve completion of the final government agreements and Power Purchase Agreements for power off-take and tariff certainty.
The company is seeking expressions of interest from potential drilling companies, and undertaking a surface temperature grid survey to identify the hottest near surface locations.
KUTh has also commissioned an equity research report on the World Bank findings to summarize the potential of the project for shareholders. (ASX: KEN)
The shares bounced to 0.7 cents on news that its newly upgraded MetaMizer MM 240 SSS has been reaffirmed by NSW Health as an approved Clinical Waste Treatment device.
Executive chairman, Paul McPherson, said the announcement is further validation that the new MetaMizer is an environmentally friendly and efficient alternative to the traditional methods of waste treatment. "The validation will be of great value to MediVac in current and future sales opportunities," he said. (ASX: MDV)
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