Stock Update (NASDAQ:PEIX): Pacific Ethanol Inc Enters Agreements to Refinance Term Debt and Acquire Ownership in Aurora Cooperative Elevator


Pacific Ethanol Inc (NASDAQ:PEIX) is refinancing its $155.1 million principal term debt, due in September 2017, and expanding its business through the following transactions:

  • Pacific Ethanol will obtain a new five-year term amortizing loan from CoBank and First Farm Credit in the amount of $64.0 million and a revolving line of credit of $32.0 million secured by its Pekin assets. This loan bears interest at LIBOR plus 3.75%.
  • Pacific Ethanol will also obtain $55.0 million from a three-year senior note offering secured by Pacific Ethanol’s ownership interest in its Western assets. The senior notes will bear initial interest at LIBOR plus 7.00%. The senior notes will have no prepayment penalty.
  • Pacific Ethanol has entered into an agreement with the Aurora Cooperative Elevator Company (ACEC), whereby Pacific Ethanol will contribute its Aurora plant assets into a newly created company, Pacific Aurora, LLC (PAL), and ACEC will simultaneously contribute its Aurora West Grain Elevator, loop track, related land and other assets into PAL. In addition, Pacific Ethanol will sell a 14% interest in PAL to ACEC for $30.0 million in cash. These transactions will result in Pacific Ethanol owning 74% and ACEC owning 26% of the combined ethanol production, grain elevator and rail facilities in Aurora, Nebraska. To further strengthen liquidity, PAL will obtain a five-year amortizing, revolving term loan of $30 million from CoBank secured by PAL’s assets. This loan will bear interest at LIBOR plus 4.00%.
  • Pacific Ethanol will use the combined proceeds to repay the $155.1 million in outstanding principal and accrued and unpaid interest owed under the terms of its existing term loans. The debt refinancing reduces total debt outstanding by more than $12 million and reduces annual interest costs by over $8 million. PAL will be a fully consolidated subsidiary of Pacific Ethanol and is expected to reduce operating costs by over $5 million annually. Excess proceeds will strengthen Pacific Ethanol’s cash and working capital positions and will be used for general corporate purposes.
  • Pacific Ethanol, in connection with the refinancing, will also increase Kinergy’s line of credit facility with Wells Fargo by $10.0 million, from $75.0 million to $85.0 million, to provide additional liquidity to Kinergy, its ethanol marketing subsidiary.

Neil Koehler, Pacific Ethanol’s President and CEO, stated: “In this series of agreements, we will accomplish a major milestone for the company by refinancing the Midwest plants’ term debt at favorable terms, strengthening our balance sheet and significantly lowering our cost of capital. The expanded strategic relationship with the Aurora Cooperative will allow us to directly benefit from farmer ownership in our ethanol business, which has proven to be a winning combination over the years in the ethanol industry. These transactions will be immediately accretive to our shareholders and create new growth opportunities for Pacific Ethanol.”

Chris Vincent, ACEC’s President and CEO, stated: “We are pleased and excited to deepen our relationship with Pacific Ethanol. We will be combining Aurora Cooperative’s grain terminal and handling facility with both of Pacific Ethanol’s adjacent bio-refineries. Our plan is to unify both entities’ operations to gain efficiencies and enhance performance. Aurora Cooperative will use its years of grain origination and operations experience combined with Pacific Ethanol’s production expertise to greatly benefit Pacific Aurora, LLC. Bringing both companies’ resources together benefits our respective stockholders, and adds value and strength to our communities, the State of Nebraska and both the ethanol and grain industries.” (Original Source)

Shares of Pacific Ethanol closed last Friday at $9.60, down $0.25 or -2.54%. PEIX has a 1-year high of $10 and a 1-year low of $2.41. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $7.69 and its 200-day moving average is $6.70.

On the ratings front, Roth Capital analyst Craig Irwin reiterated a Buy rating on PEIX, with a price target of $9, in a report issued on November 1. The current price target represents a potential downside of 6% from where the stock is currently trading. According to TipRanks.com, Irwin has a yearly average loss of 5.0%, a 39% success rate, and is ranked #3980 out of 4273 analysts.

Pacific Ethanol, Inc. produces and markets low-carbon renewable fuels in the Western United States. The company operates through the following segments: Production and Marketing. It produces and markets co-products, including wet and dry corn gluten feed, condensed distillers solubles, corn gluten meals, corn germs, distillers yeast, and CO2.