Metabolix's CEO Discusses Business Update (Transcript)

Metabolix, Inc. ( MBLX)

Business Update Conference Call

January 12, 2012 5:00 pm ET


James Palczynski – ICR, Investor Relations

Richard P. Eno – President and Chief Executive Officer

Joseph D. Hill – Chief Financial Officer

Oliver P. Peoples – Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer


JinMing Liu – Ardour Capital Investments

Jeff Zekauskas – JPMorgan Securities, Inc.

Jeff Osborne – Stifel Nicolaus

Laurence Alexander – Jefferies & Co.



Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Metabolix Incorporated business update conference call. As a reminder, today’s call is being recorded.

I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. James Palczynski of ICR. Please go ahead.

James Palczynski

Thank you, operator, and good afternoon, everyone. Metabolix issued a press release after the market closed today. If you do not have a copy, one may be found on the website at in the Investor Relations section. Making the presentation today will be Richard Eno, President and Chief Executive Officer of Metabolix; and Joseph Hill, Chief Financial Officer of the Company. They are joined by Oliver Peoples, a Co-founder of Metabolix and Chief Scientific Officer.

Before we begin our formal remarks, I need to remind everyone that, part of our discussion today will include forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance, and therefore, undue reliance should not be put upon them. The Company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements in order to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date of this conference call.

We refer all of you to our recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our quarterly Form 10-Qs filed during 2011, and 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, for a more detailed discussion of the risk that could impact our business and our future operating results and financial condition.

With that, I’d like to turn the call over to Rick Eno, President and CEO of Metabolix. Rick?

Richard P. Eno

Thank you, James. Good evening and thank you for joining us in this important call this evening. As I’m sure that you are aware, Metabolix today announced that the Archer Daniels Midland Company, ADM, has given notice of termination for the Telles LLC joint venture for PHA bioplastics. The effective date of the termination is February 8, 2012.

In tonight’s call, I will describe this event and its implications to Metabolix. I will address the ADM termination and what it means, the focus of Metabolix moving forward, and the restructuring impact on Metabolix. I will also address some questions that I believe will be important to you, and we will also take questions at the end of the call.

I’d like to begin with the ADM termination and its implications. Telles LLC was established as a 50-50 joint venture between Metabolix and ADM in July 2006. The objective of the joint venture was to commercialize our unique family of bio-based biodegradable PHA bioplastics. To supply the joint venture, ADM constructed and operated a polymer manufacturing facility in Clinton, Iowa with a design capacity of 50,000 tons per year.

Metabolix provided all of the enabling intellectual property, and was responsible for establishing compounding operations for the venture. As of early 2012, the joint venture has had ongoing sales activities in the U.S., across Europe and in other countries around the world. As of October 2011, the venture was working with approximately 100 customers and prospects, with 57 customers and 26 repeat buyers. The business has continued to expand since October.

ADM recently undertook a strategic review of its business investments, and made the decision to terminate their participation in the joint venture. They have always had this right, as we have previously disclosed. We learned of the decision this week and did not expect it. ADM indicated that projected financial returns were too uncertain as the basis for their decision. As a result, ADM will retain its manufacturing plant in Clinton, Iowa.

The Metabolix PHA bioplastics technology works well at commercial scale. In particular, the fermentation scale-up and performance was exceptional, as was feedback from the market. That being said, capital costs were more than anticipated and projected future operating costs, including raw materials costs, were uncertain and as you know, the times for commercializing this new innovative material have been longer than anticipated.

The terms of our agreement with ADM are very clear with regards to the implications of the termination. ADM no longer has the obligation to fund the joint venture, nor supply PHA product. All intellectual property flows back to Metabolix. Metabolix will retain sole rights to all PHA bioplastics technology, including intellectual property rights and trademarks, the Telles joint venture is wound down.

The obligations of the joint venture to pay back the ledger balance, which stood at $425 million as of the end of Q3 2011, are eliminated. Therefore, Metabolix will have no ongoing obligation under the ledger account, which was funded by ADM to finance the Clinton plant and certain Telles operating costs.

Our exclusivity with ADM for PHA bioplastics will be ended and we will now be able to discuss a range of alternative business models with potential partners around the world. Unfortunately, another implication of the termination is that in the very near-term, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to supply our customers with commercial quantities materials due to the lack of a commercial manufacturing asset. We will be working with each of our customers and prospects to manage this transition as effectively as possible.

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