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Benson Hill announces Q1 financial results and strategic shifts

The company’s transition includes the divestiture of its Iowa soy processing facility and the retirement of $120 million in high-cost debt.

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Benson Hill has announced its financial and operating results for the first quarter ending March 31, 2024, detailing a strategic transition towards a licensing model and various corporate adjustments aimed at enhancing financial health and market position.

Deanie Elsner, CEO of Benson Hill, highlighted the company's decisive moves to strengthen its balance sheet by divesting its Creston, Iowa, soy processing facility, and retiring $120 million in high-cost debt. "2024 represents a year of transition as we evolve our business to a licensing model," Elsner stated, emphasizing the company's focus on operational efficiencies and cost reduction.

During the quarter, Benson Hill reported key achievements, including a shift in its financial profile with the reclassification of its soy processing revenues—previously 73% of its revenues and cost of goods sold. This shift is anticipated to expand gross profit margins as the company grows its licensing revenue. The company has also managed to extend its cash runway through rigorous cash management and expense reduction strategies.

Significant progress was made in the commercialization of its innovative soybean varieties, with more than 42 varieties being planted across 358 independent testing locations. This is part of an effort to validate the agronomic characteristics of its genetics across multiple maturity zones. Benson Hill plans to expand its seed portfolio from 22 to more than 35 varieties by 2025, with new non-GMO, Ultra-High Protein, Low Oligosaccharide (UHP-LO) varieties expected to yield on par with GMO commercial varieties by 2026.

The company also welcomed new executive leaders, Susan Keefe as Chief Financial Officer and Dan Cosgrove as Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, strengthening its leadership team as it enters larger markets such as animal feed and biofuels.

Financially, Benson Hill reported revenues of $21.1 million for the first quarter, a decrease of 56.6% primarily due to lower trading volumes and sales of non-proprietary soybeans, partially offset by an increase in licensing revenue. Gross profit improved slightly to $5.2 million, reflecting a shift towards higher margin licensing revenues. Operating expenses decreased by 15.8% to $21.8 million, inclusive of non-recurring costs associated with facility divestiture and business transition. The net loss from continuing operations widened to $26.3 million, although adjusted EBITDA loss improved by $7.4 million from the previous year to $7.1 million.

Looking ahead, CFO Susan Keefe expressed optimism about the company's financial trajectory: "As we transition our business to a licensing model, our revenues and costs will be lower, and our margins will increase over time, which will drive improvement in the quality of our earnings."

Benson Hill's strategic adjustments and licensing focus are set to form the basis of its growth strategy, aiming to enhance the profitability and sustainability of its operations in the evolving ag tech landscape.

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