S&W Seed Company (SANW)
Discussion Regarding Stevia Sourcing Agreement Signed With PureCircle Conference Call
August 2, 2010, 4:15 PM ET
Dodi Handy – IR & Public Relations for S&W Seed Company; CEO - Elite Financial Communications Group
Grover Wickersham – Chairman – S&W Seed Company
Ron Tracy – Paulson Investment Company
Ian Gilson - Zacks Investment Research
Keith Gil – Paulson Investment Company
Jim Wasserman – Sacramento Bee
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the S&W Seed Company conference call.
During today's presentation, all parties will be in a listen-only mode.
Following the presentation, the conference will be opened for questions.
If you have a question, please press the star followed by the one on your touchtone phone.
Please press star, zero for operator assistance at any time.
For participants using speaker equipment, it may be necessary to pick up your handset before making your selection.
This conference is being recorded today, August 2nd, 2010.
I would now like to turn the conference over to our host, Dodi Handy.
Please go ahead.
Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.
The purpose of today’s call is to discuss S&W Seed Company’s recently announced stevia sourcing agreement with PureCircle Limited.
In view of the fact that S&W’s Chairman has been running point on this stevia opportunity, he has kindly agreed to share his time today to help us all better understand why this is an exciting opportunity for the Company.
As Alicia, our operator, noted, my name is Dodi Handy.
I am President and CEO of Elite Financial Communications Group.
My firm has the privilege of managing strategic corporate communications for S&W.
Once I cover the Safe Harbor Statement, I’m going to be joined by Mr. Grover Wickersham, Chairman of S&W Seed; and then Grover and I will engage in an informal discussion related to the Company and the stevia opportunity.
Then, after we cover several key points, we will have Alicia again provide you with instructions on how to queue into the question and answer period.
Now, during the Q&A, I would ask that you restrict your questions to the discussion on stevia.
When the Company announces its year-end results, we will be hosting a call with the entire management team, who will be on hand to cover a much broader spectrum of the Company’s operating activities at that time.
But, for today, if you would, let’s just stick to stevia.
First, however, allow me to remind you that on this afternoon’s call, we may make 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,” “anticipates,” “draft,” “eventually,” or “projected.”
You 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 from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risk that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors and other risks identified in the Company’s prospectus, which is dated May 3rd, 2010, and other filings made by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
So, with that said, I’d now like to welcome S&W Chairman, Grover Wickersham, to our call.
Thanks so much for agreeing to talk with us today.
Oh, hi, Dodi.
Thanks a lot for hosting the call and thanks to everybody else who’s taken the time to listen in.
Well, Grover, let’s talk about stevia.
What is it and why did S&W elect to undertake a plan to bring commercial-scale production of this plant to the United States?
Well, just a little background first.
S&W Seed’s been around for over 30 years.
It’s a profitable alfalfa seed company and it historically has been a major wheat processor for the Middle East—and is based in California and the Central Valley.
We have been working with the general partners of S&W and trying to transform it from a small seed company into an industry player, using it as a platform, and we knew we needed to build upon our existing base.
So, a few years ago, we began investigating potential new crops that are grown elsewhere around the world that could also be grown in California—and that’s just part of our overall plan, which is to try to put additional products—agricultural products—through our Five Points facility.
Then, in December of 2008, the FDA approved the use of stevia for use as an ingredient in food and beverage products.
It had been around for, well, 200 or 300 years, but until 2008, it was not GRAS—which stands for Generally Recognized As Safe—and so, it had to get that designation before it could be generally marketed.
On the cusp of the Obama administration taking over, the FDA approved the use of stevia for use as an ingredient in food and beverage products.
And the primary component of stevia that’s used today—you know, this is kind of a developing area; there are other components that are being considered—but the primary component is Reb A, and that’s extracted from the stevia leaf, and it’s an all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener—it’s up to about 300 times sweeter than sugar.
It is similar in intensity to aspartame and Splenda, with the difference being that instead of being a chemical product, it’s actually a natural product.