FuelCell Energy Reports First Quarter Revenues Up

Mar 13th, 2012 | By | Category: Business
  • 120 Megawatt order commitment and $30 million equity investment by POSCO Energy
  • Executing on European growth strategy
  • Cost control and volume are leading to expanding gross margins

DANBURY, Conn., March 12, 2012 — FuelCell Energy, Inc., a manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable fuel cell power plants, has reported results for its first quarter ended Jan. 31, 2012 along with its business highlights.

Financial Results

First quarter 2012

FuelCell Energy (the Company) reported total revenues for the first quarter of 2012 of $31.3 million compared to $28.1 million in the same period last year. Product sales and revenues in the first quarter increased 15 percent to $29.6 million compared to $25.8 million in the prior year quarter, due to increasing demand for Direct FuelCell (DFC) power plants, components and installation services. First quarter product revenue included $20.9 million of power plants and fuel cell kits, $5.3 million of power plant component sales and installation services, and $3.4 million of service and power purchase agreements. Product sales and service backlog totaled $184.1 million as of January 31, 2012 compared to $156.9 million as of January 31, 2011. Product sales backlog was $107.9 million and $78.9 million as of January 31, 2012 and 2011, respectively. Service agreement backlog was $76.2 million and $78.0 million as of January 31, 2012 and 2011, respectively. Backlog does not include the 120 MW POSCO Energy announcement or service agreement with Southern California Edison received subsequent to quarter end.

Research and development contract revenue was $1.7 million for the first quarter of 2012 compared to $2.3 million for the first quarter of 2011. The Company’s research and development contract backlog totaled $14.1 million as of January 31, 2012 compared to $7.9 million as of January 31, 2011, reflecting the awarding of contracts during 2011 for carbon capture research and hydrogen separation and compression programs.

Total gross profit was $2.1 million in the first quarter of 2012, compared to a gross loss of $2.3 million in the first quarter of 2011.  Gross profit for product sales and revenues improved $4.2 million compared to the first quarter of 2011. The product gross margin was 6.6 percent for the first quarter of 2012 compared to negative 8.9 percent in the prior year period. Improvements in margin compared to the prior year period are primarily attributable to increased production volume, lower product costs achieved from manufacturing and supply chain efficiencies and improved services margins as older early generation power plants are offset by new installations with profitable service contracts.

First quarter 2012 loss from operations decreased to $5.4 million compared to $10.6 million for the comparable prior year period as higher sales volume reduced product costs combined with the benefit of lower operating expenses. A series of cost control initiatives resulted in reduced operating expenses for the current period compared to the prior year period. Net loss to common shareholders for the first quarter of 2012 decreased to $6.7 million, or $0.05 per basic and diluted share, compared to $11.7 million or $0.10 per basic and diluted share in the first quarter of 2011.

Cash and investments in U.S. Treasuries

Total cash, cash equivalents and investments in U.S. Treasuries were $41.5 million as of January 31, 2012. Net cash, cash equivalents and investments used in the first quarter of 2012 was $21.9 million. The change in cash during the quarter included an increase of inventory and accounts receivable of $8.1 million and the payment of $4.3 million of payments on preferred stock obligations. Inventory increased as fuel cell power plants were built to prepare for expected near-term order activity. Preferred stock payments included a $3.2 million payment to the holder of the Series I preferred shares, the last of four scheduled principal repayments under a previously announced agreement. Quarterly preferred stock payments going forward will total approximately $1.1 million.  Capital spending for the first quarter of 2012 was $0.9 million and depreciation expense was $1.4 million.

Business Highlights

Growth Strategies

“The strategic initiatives announced with POSCO Energy enable us to capture  the expanding market opportunities in Asia for our ultra-clean baseload power plants,” said Chip Bottone, President and CEO, FuelCell Energy, Inc.

The Company is expanding the partnership with POSCO Energy including a 120 MW multi-year order commitment, acceleration of deliveries under the existing 70 MW order, a commitment by POSCO Energy to purchase 20 million shares of FuelCell Energy common stock at a price of $1.50 per share for proceeds of $30 million, and a license commitment for manufacturing of Direct FuelCell® components in South Korea.

“We continue to execute on our global expansion strategy with the Fraunhofer IKTS and Abengoa announcements, both exceptional organizations that will help us take advantage of the extensive opportunities in Europe as well as Latin America for ultra-clean baseload distributed power generation,” continued Mr. Bottone.

The Company achieved two major milestones in Europe with the announcements of a proposed joint venture with German based Fraunhofer IKTS and a partnership with Spanish based Abengoa. Fraunhofer will contribute research expertise to the announced joint venture, particularly in materials science, as well as relationships with utilities, on-site power users and regulatory authorities.    FuelCell Energy has developed a strong pipeline of prospective orders in Europe with only limited direct marketing to date. European based sales resources will further expand interest and order activity for DFC plants.

Abengoa develops and owns power generation and transmission projects in Europe and Latin America. Their liquid biofuels expertise, extensive industry and regulatory relationships, and financial resources make them an ideal partner to develop and expand the market for megawatt-class stationary fuel cell power plants in Europe and Latin America, particularly DFC plants utilizing renewable biogas or liquid biofuels.

Services and Customer Installations

Services represents a growing source of revenue reflecting the expanding installed base as customers outsource the operation and maintenance of the fuel cell power plants to the Company. In March 2012, another California utility executed a multi-year service agreement for a DFC power plant that will be installed at a university.

The Company has completed approximately 75 percent of the work related to the previously announced repair and upgrade program for a select group of fuel cell stacks produced between 2007 and early 2009. The program remains on schedule with expected conclusion by early summer 2012.

Installation and commissioning update:

  • One 1.4 MW plant purchased by a project investor and installed on a university campus in Connecticut was commissioned in December 2011.
  • 4.5 MW of plants sold to a project investor and located at municipal locations and a university in San Diego, CA were commissioned during the first quarter of 2012.
  • 4.2 MW of plants sold to a project investor and located at two wastewater treatment facilities in California are undergoing commissioning.
  • A 300 kW CE-compliant plant is in transit for installation in a high profile central London commercial building during the second quarter of 2012.
  • POSCO Energy completed installation of two DFC3000 power plants during the first quarter of 2012, with fuel cell modules provided by FuelCell Energy. The customer, an independent power producer, is now operating a fuel cell park totaling 10.4 MW. This is the second fuel cell park operating in South Korea that is in excess of 10 MW.
  • Two demonstration 100 kW Direct FuelCell power plants targeting the building application market in South Korea were commissioned by POSCO Energy.

Cautionary Language 

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, without limitation, statements with respect to the Company’s anticipated financial results and statements regarding the Company’s plans and expectations regarding the continuing development, commercialization and financing of its fuel cell technology and business plans. All forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that could cause such a difference include, without limitation, changes to whether the Company is able to reach definitive agreements on the terms contemplated in the recently announced memorandums of understanding with POSCO Energy, projected deliveries and order flow, changes to production rate and product costs, general risks associated with product development, manufacturing, changes in the regulatory environment, customer strategies, changes in critical accounting policies, potential volatility of energy prices, rapid technological change, competition, and the Company’s ability to achieve its sales plans and cost reduction targets, as well as other risks set forth in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements contained herein speak only as of the date of this press release. The Company expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any such statement to reflect any change in the Company’s expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

In related news:

FuelCell Energy and POSCO Energy Announce Expanded Partnership

  • 120 Megawatt multi-year Order Commitment and Delivery Under Existing 70 Megawatt Order to be Accelerated
  • $30 Million Investment in FuelCell Energy Common Stock
  • Manufacturing of Direct FuelCell® components to commence in South Korea by October 2014

DANBURY, Conn., March 12, 2012 — FuelCell Energy, Inc., a manufacturer of ultra-clean, efficient and reliable fuel cell power plants, announced the signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) outlining a series of strategic initiatives with its South Korean partner, POSCO Energy (formally POSCO Power). These include a 120 megawatt (MW) multi-year order commitment, acceleration of deliveries under the existing 70 MW order, and a license commitment which provides for the manufacturing of Direct FuelCell (DFC) components in South Korea by October 2014.

“We are experiencing increasing demand for ultra-clean baseload fuel cell power plants from electric utilities and independent power producers under the South Korean Renewable Portfolio Standard and we are projecting significant demand from the commercial building market in South Korea as well as exports to other Asian countries,” said Soung-Sik Cho, President and CEO, POSCO Energy. “We are investing in increased capacity to meet this forecasted demand as the capacity of the existing FuelCell Energy production facility in the USA is not sufficient to meet our mutual global demand forecasts.”

Under the terms of the MOU, POSCO Energy will purchase 20,000,000 shares of FCEL common stock at a price of $1.50 per share for proceeds of $30 million. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes. The transaction is expected to close in April 2012.

“This strategic transaction reflects significant progress for FuelCell Energy and our ultra-clean stationary fuel cell power plants as we execute on our global growth plans, strengthen our balance sheet and drive to profitability,” said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer for FuelCell Energy, Inc. “This announcement will be welcomed by project investors as it expands the global manufacturing footprint for our Direct FuelCell products.”

The MOU anticipates that POSCO Energy will order 120 MW of fuel cell kits for delivery starting in 2013 and concluding in 2016, all to be produced at the Torrington, Connecticut production facility owned by FuelCell Energy. Additionally, the MOU contemplates that the existing 70 MW order will be accelerated from 2.8 MW of fuel cell kits delivered each month to 4.2 MW per month, beginning in August 2012.

“The 120 megawatt order provides a committed level of production for our Torrington Connecticut production facility for the next several years, which provides certainty to our supply chain and increases capacity utilization,” continued Mr. Bottone.

The expanded license agreement will provide for the manufacture of Direct FuelCell components in Korea in a facility owned by POSCO Energy. POSCO Energy will provide the land and building in Pohang, South Korea for the manufacturing facility along with all necessary funding for construction and daily operation of the facility. POSCO Energy will pay a one-time licensing fee upon execution of the agreement and an on-going royalty. The expanded license agreement is expected to be finalized in the Company’s third quarter of 2012.

DFC power plants efficiently provide ultra-clean and reliable power at the point of use. The fuel cells utilize an electrochemical process to efficiently generate ultra-clean electricity and usable high quality heat. Due to the absence of combustion, virtually no pollutants are emitted. Avoiding the emission of NOx, SOx and particulate matter supports clean air regulations and benefits public health. The high efficiency of the fuel cell power generation process reduces fuel costs and carbon emissions, and producing both electricity and heat from the same unit of fuel further supports favorable economics while also promoting sustainability. Fuel cells can achieve up to 90 percent efficiency when configured to use the high quality heat generated by the power plant in a combined heat & power (CHP) mode.

FuelCell Energy management will discuss these strategic initiatives as part of the previously scheduled First Quarter 2012 earnings call at 10:00 am Eastern Time on March 12, 2012. The live webcast of the call will be available on the Company website at www.fuelcellenergy.com. To listen to the call, select ‘Investors’ on the home page, then click on ‘events & presentations’ and then click on ‘Listen to the webcast.’

About FuelCell Energy

Direct FuelCell® power plants are generating ultra-clean, efficient and reliable power at more than 50 locations worldwide.  With over 180 megawatts of power generation capacity installed or in backlog, FuelCell Energy is a global leader in providing ultra-clean baseload distributed generation to utilities, industrial operations, universities, municipal water treatment facilities, government installations and other customers around the world.  The Company’s power plants have generated over one billion kWh of power using a variety of fuels including renewable biogas from wastewater treatment and food processing, as well as clean natural gas.  For more information please visit our website at www.fuelcellenergy.com

Direct FuelCell, DFC, DFC/T, DFC-H2 and FuelCell Energy, Inc. are all registered trademarks of FuelCell Energy, Inc.  DFC-ERG is a registered trademark jointly owned by Enbridge, Inc. and FuelCell Energy, Inc.

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