Ceres Announces Fiscal Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results

July 10, 2014

- Yield gains continue across sorghum product lines

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif., July 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Ceres, Inc. (Nasdaq: CERE), an agricultural biotechnology and seed company, announced today financial results for the three months ended May 31, 2014 and provided an update on its business.

Ceres reported that the company and its customers have made continued progress in product performance this growing season in Brazil, which concluded in June, despite dry and hot conditions that affected the company’s sorghum evaluation areas for part of the growing season. Yields of several of its sweet and high biomass sorghum products met or exceeded expectations in multiple regions in South Central Brazil.

Richard Hamilton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ceres, said that the company achieved a number of key milestones in Brazil. “This season we significantly improved execution in the field and demonstrated higher yields with our products. Moving forward, we believe we can use the success of this season to build greater confidence in the crop and generate additional momentum behind our ongoing commercialization activities,” said Hamilton.

Andre Franco, General Manager of Ceres’ Brazilian operations, said that the company is extending its commercial outreach in the coming season to other agri-industrial companies that use biomass as a source of electricity, heat or steam. “These companies are particularly interested in taking advantage of the current spike in electricity prices in Brazil through the generation of more biopower,” said Franco. “With shortages of sugarcane bagasse expected to continue next season, customers are interested in our high biomass sorghum as an alternative feedstock for combustion.”

In addition to the results of its field trials, the company announced that its subsidiary Ceres Sementes do Brazil Ltda. has been selected by the Brazilian government to receive a combination of low-interest loans and a non-repayable grant over the next four years to fund product development in sorghum and sugarcane. The funding is offered under the Brazilian government’s PAISS Agricola program. Under the program, Ceres is eligible for a multi-year, multi-million dollar credit facility at a government-subsidized interest rate as well as a multi-million dollar non-repayable grant. Receipt of the loan will be subject to guarantees to be provided by or obtained by Ceres as well as customary diligence, documentation and closing conditions. The company expects to receive full program terms in mid-July.

Ceres Chief Financial Officer Paul Kuc reported that expenses for the quarter continued to benefit from cost-saving measures initiated in the first fiscal quarter. “We expect these cost savings measures to reach up to approximately $8 million for the next fiscal year, not including the potential impact of the PAISS grant and loan on our outlays for Brazil,” said Kuc.

Recent Business Highlights

    --  In customer evaluations, several of Ceres' high biomass sorghum hybrids
        under development for Brazil's biopower market achieved average yields
        in multiple regions that the company believes meet or exceed minimum
        yields levels needed for commercialization. Top yields exceeded 35
        metric tons per hectare, as measured at 50% moisture content.

    --  Ethanol yields from Ceres' sweet sorghum products were more than 35%
        higher on average than the previous season, according to company
        calculations. At 40 customer evaluation sites, calculated ethanol yields
        per hectare ranged from approximately 950 to 4,200 liters per hectare,
        with regional averages by product ranging from 1,300 to 3,250 liters per
        hectare. Twenty-eight customer locations achieved ethanol yields above
        2,500 liters with one or more products. Variations in yields were
        primarily due to differences in growing conditions during the season, as
        well as anticipated variation in the adaptation range and performance of
        individual hybrids under evaluation. Results from smaller scale
        evaluations may not be indicative of biomass and ethanol yields that can
        be achieved in full scale commercial plantings, which are affected by
        greater variability in weather, soil and other growing conditions.

    --  In breeding and product development trials, where plantings are
        irrigated and managed more closely than commercial fields, ethanol
        yields from Ceres' later-stage sweet sorghum product candidates exceeded
        5,300 liters of ethanol per hectare, according to company calculations.
        Other experimental hybrids earlier in the company's product development
        pipeline demonstrated yields exceeding 6,000 liters of ethanol per
        hectare. In addition, experimental high biomass sorghum hybrids achieved
        yields well over 50 metric tons of biomass per hectare, measured at 50%
        moisture content. Further testing will be required to confirm these
        research results, and lower yields are expected as hybrids are advanced
        to larger-sized plantings, which are affected by greater variability.

    --  Based on this season's positive results, Ceres is advancing several
        sweet and high biomass sorghum products for larger scale customer
        evaluations next season. The company will also advance new hybrids in
        its product development pipeline for continued mill evaluations. Ceres
        indicated that at least one more growing season will be required to
        fully demonstrate economically attractive yields in Brazil.

    --  Field evaluations of Ceres' biotech traits in corn were planted in May
        in China, with results expected by the end of this year. These trials
        include plants with various combinations, or stacks, of genes that
        appear to work synergistically to amplify their benefits.

    --  This month, Ceres announced that Bayer CropScience became the second
        life sciences company to license the company's Persephone genome viewer
        software. Ceres currently offers Persephone as an enterprise-grade
        client-server installation and is currently developing a Software as a
        Service (SaaS) model for individual researchers.
    --  In June, the company announced that it had initiated field evaluations
        of a number of its leading biotech traits in sugarcane.

Financial Results

Total revenues decreased by $0.5 million to $0.8 million for the quarter ended May 31, 2014 compared to the quarter ended May 31, 2013. Collaborative research and government grant revenue decreased by $0.3 million. Product sales decreased by $0.2 million, primarily due to reduced biomass sales, which resulted from changes and reductions in the company’s sales incentive and promotional programs for the 2013-2014 sorghum growing season in Brazil.

Cost of product sales decreased by $1.6 million to $0.6 million for the three months ended May 31, 2014 compared to the same period in the prior year. The decrease was primarily due to reduced expenses of $1.0 million resulting from changes and reductions in the company’s sales incentive and promotional programs for the 2013-2014 sorghum growing season in Brazil and reduced expenses of $0.6 million related to obsolete seed inventory.

Research and development expenses decreased by $0.5 million to $3.6 million for the three months ended May 31, 2014 compared to the same period in the prior year primarily due to reduced external research and development expenses in the United States.

Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased by $0.6 million to $3.9 million for the three months ended May 31, 2014 compared to the same period in the prior year. In the U.S. personnel and related expenses and professional fees decreased by $0.5 million. In Brazil, personal and related expenses decreased by $0.1 million.

For the quarter ended May 31, 2014, Ceres reported a net loss of $7.7 million, or $0.17 per share, compared to a net loss of $9.3 million, or $0.38 per share, for the quarter ended May 31, 2013.

At May 31, 2014, cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities totaled $32.5 million.

Conference Call and Webcast Information

Ceres has scheduled a conference call for 4:30 p.m. EDT (1:30 p.m. PDT) today to discuss its fiscal third quarter results and to provide an update on its business. To access the webcast of the conference call, go to investor.ceres.net. Audio of the teleconference is also available by dialing (877) 838-4153 (domestic) or +1(720) 545-0037 (international). The conference ID number is 59904089. An audio replay of the call will be available two hours after the conclusion of the live call, and remain available on the Ceres website for 30 days.

About Ceres

Ceres, Inc. is an agricultural biotechnology company that markets seeds for energy crops used in the production of renewable transportation fuels, electricity and bio-based products. The company combines advanced plant breeding and biotechnology to develop products that can address the limitations of first-generation bioenergy feedstocks, increase biomass productivity, reduce crop inputs and improve cultivation on marginal land. Its development activities include sweet sorghum, high biomass sorghum, switchgrass and miscanthus. Ceres markets its products under its Blade brand. The company also licenses its technology and biotech traits to other organizations. Persephone is a trademark of Ceres, Inc.

Ceres Forward-Looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking statements. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, including statements regarding Ceres’ efforts to develop and commercialize its products,
anticipated yields and product performance, status of crop plantings, short-term and long-term business strategies, market and industry expectations, future operating metrics, and future results of operations and financial position, including anticipated cost savings from the company’s plan to align expenditures, are forward-looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are, in some cases, beyond Ceres’ control. Factors that could materially affect actual results can be found in Ceres’ filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Ceres undertakes no obligation to update publicly, except to the extent required by law, any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date the company issues this press release to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in the company’s expectations.

                                               CERES, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

                                     Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations

                                    (In thousands, except share and per share amounts)


                                                   Three Months Ended                    Nine Months Ended
                                                      May 31,                           May 31,
                                                      -------                           -------

                                                        2014                       2013             2014           2013
                                                        ----                       ----             ----           ----


         Product sales                                  $163                       $389             $229           $462

         Collaborative research
          and government grants                          643                        966            1,835          3,884
                                                         ---                        ---            -----          -----

              Total revenues                             806                      1,355            2,064          4,346
                                                         ---                      -----            -----          -----

    Cost and operating expenses:

         Cost of product sales                           575                      2,134            2,440          5,114

         Research and development                      3,595                      4,074           11,579         12,784

         Selling, general and
          administrative                               3,887                      4,464           10,732         11,700

         Other                                           464                          -             464              -

              Total cost and operating
               expenses                                8,521                     10,672           25,215         29,598
                                                       -----                     ------           ------         ------

    Loss from operations                             (7,715)                   (9,317)        (23,151)      (25,252)

    Interest expense                                    (25)                      (34)            (44)          (35)

    Interest income                                       13                         28               39            106
                                                         ---                        ---              ---            ---

    Loss before income taxes                         (7,727)                   (9,323)        (23,156)      (25,181)

    Income tax expense                                     -                         -             (1)           (1)
                                                         ---                       ---             ---            ---

    Net loss                                        $(7,727)                  $(9,323)       $(23,157)     $(25,182)
                                                     =======                    =======         ========       ========

    Basic and diluted net
     loss per share                                  $(0.17)                   $(0.38)         $(0.72)       $(1.02)

    Weighted average
     outstanding common
     shares used for net
     loss per share:                              45,955,818                 24,801,705       32,165,265     24,765,664

              Basic and diluted

                                                    CERES, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

                                               Condensed Consolidated Balance Sheets

                                         (In thousands, except share amounts and par value)


                                                                  May 31,                   August 31,
                                                                  -------                   ----------

                                                                               2014                          2013
                                                                               ----                          ----


    Current assets:

         Cash and cash equivalents                                           $5,890                        $8,881

         Marketable securities                                               24,393                        21,630

         Prepaid expenses                                                       917                           791

         Accounts receivable                                                    460                           957

         Inventories                                                              -                           20

         Assets held for sale, net                                              688                             -

         Other current assets                                                   119                           157
                                                                                ---                           ---

              Total current assets                                           32,467                        32,436

    Property and equipment, net                                               2,966                         4,633

    Marketable securities                                                     2,247                             -

    Other assets                                                                 98                           109
                                                                                ---                           ---

              Total assets                                                  $37,778                       $37,178
                                                                            =======                       =======

    Liabilities and Stockholders' Equity

    Current liabilities:

         Accounts payable and accrued
          expenses                                                           $3,943                        $3,825

         Other current liabilities                                              141                            18

         Current portion of long-term
          debt                                                                   92                           154
                                                                                ---                           ---

              Total current liabilities                                       4,176                         3,997

    Other non-current liabilities                                                79                            93

    Long-term debt, net of current
     portion                                                                     31                            82

              Total liabilities                                               4,286                         4,172
                                                                              -----                         -----

    Commitments and contingencies

    Stockholders' equity:

         Common stock and additional paid
          in capital, $0.01 par value;
          240,000,000 shares authorized;
          48,204,635 shares issued and
          outstanding at May 31, 2014;
          490,000,000 shares authorized;
          24,897,199 shares issued and
          outstanding at August 31, 2013                                    331,841                       308,286

         Accumulated other comprehensive
          loss                                                                (608)                        (696)

         Accumulated deficit                                              (297,741)                    (274,584)
                                                                           --------                      --------

              Total stockholders' equity                                     33,492                        33,006
                                                                             ------                        ------

    Total liabilities and
     stockholders' equity                                                   $37,778                       $37,178
                                                                            =======                       =======

SOURCE Ceres, Inc.

Source: PR Newswire

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