Yongye International (YGII.OB) is a fertilizer producer in China. The company produces a chemical called fulvic acid, which increases crop yields. While the company calls its product a "nutrient", it is similar in concept to a fertilizer.
YGII’s plant nutrients improve a crop’s taste and nutritional value while producing greater yields. When used along with fertilizers, the effectiveness of fertilizers is improved by 10% to 50% (company report), stronger and larger leaves and roots are produced, and typical harvest times are shortened by 10 to 20 days.
The company also produces animal nutrients, which it claims help maximize digestion and uptake of food, but animal-targeted products make up less than 10% of revenue
Net revenue was $12.4 million in the first quarter of 2009, an increase of 30.5% from $9.5 million in the first quarter of 2008.
Gross profit increased from $5.0 million in the first quarter of 2008 to $6.5 million in the first quarter of 2009. Net income increased 176.6% to $3.1 million in the first three months of 2009, or $0.14 per diluted share, compared to net income of $1.1 million, or $0.10 per diluted share, in the same period of 2008. $9.0 million was raised in a private placement in May 2009. 2009 projected revenue is $82-$84 million; projected net income is $23 to $24 million.
To keep up with increasing demand for the Company’s products, the Company has acquired a 2,000 metric tons per year production facility, and completed construction of a new 8,000 metric tons per year manufacturing facility on the same property. Now total capacity is 10,000 tons. If it operates under full capacity, the company is expecting $100 million revenue.
At the end of June 2009 the company’s distribution network has a total of 5000 stores selling “Shengmingsu” plant nutrient products.
The sales model is a community-direct model. The distributors contract with independently owned agricultural product stores to bring them into the branded store network. Yongye products are featured and prominently displayed in its branded stores. This model creates a network of specialized agricultural product stores which have a local feel and long time recognition in the community.
Before the store is brought into the Branded Store network, it goes through a trial process. After branding, each store has the opportunity to sell a nationally distributed product which attracts attention to the store.
Store owners receive training and promotional assistance. Stores are supplied with a computer that has education and promotional programs that are used to help farmers understand the benefits of Yongye products.
The amount of arable and productive land in China is declining due to urban encroachment and nonproduction as farmers move to cities for higher paying jobs. China’s increasing wealth and rising concern about food quality and safety have led to greater demand for organic plant and animal nutrients.
China now has more than 20% of the world’s population, but only 7% of the world’s arable land. Every hectare of arable farmland in China must support 10.3 people, compared to 5.1 people in the European Union and 1.6 people in the United States. With a population of 1.3 billion people and an estimated average annual growth rate of 0.9% up through 2010, China’s farmland is currently being used at close to capacity levels just to meet domestic demand. The need to use land efficiently has led to a need to improve productivity (from Roth Capital Research Report).
The capacity of chemical based fertilizer manufacturing capacity in China is huge. At the end of 2008, China has become the largest producer of nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer. However, this industry is fragmented and actually has problem of over capacity. In order to handle the rising food problem, the Chinese government has made decision to restructure the fertilizer industry.
Recently, the National Development and Reform Commission announced the elimination of outdated chemical based fertilizer production capacity in the following 5 years and will help boost the development of Chinese organic fertilizer industry.
On May 28, 2008, Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated that "[we] guide farmers to apply fertilizer to encourage the growing of organic fertilizer companies." Since then, local governments at all levels have been introducing various organic fertilizer subsidies. 2009 Central Document No. 1 clearly stated "encourage farmers to increase organic fertilizer usage."
The Chinese government also exempted value added taxes of organic fertilizer producers, wholesalers, and retailers.
The central government official document says: “…enjoy the above-mentioned policy of duty-free products are the organic fertilizers, organic - inorganic compound fertilizers and bio-organic fertilizer. “
Fulvic acid is extracted from humic acids. The Company obtains its humic acids from lignite coal which is also known as Leonardite Coal. China has approximately 12% of the world’s Leonardite Coal reserves (World Energy Council) and 250MM tons much of this is found in Inner Mongolia (from company report).
Fulvic acid strengthens the cell walls of plants and animals and acts as a transport mechanism to speed the absorption of essential minerals and nutrients by cells while promoting cell formation. The Company adds to this base its own mixture of macro and micro nutrients to ensure plant growth. These formulas help bind and stabilize the light weight molecules in fulvic acid with the additional components and stabilize it for use on crops. (company report)
The Company’s current universal plant nutrient product is a liquid nutrient which is applied via a foliar spray. Yongye now has two patents pending for this mixture and stabilization process in its plant and animal nutrient products.
China’s fertilizer industry is highly fragmented, with over 2,800 fertilizer products registered with the government in 2007. Yongye competes against 164 other fulvic acid fertilizer products (Chinese Fertilizer Net), however, only four other similar enhanced fulvic acid based products are truly competitors (company report).
Although the market is fragmented, the market is still widely open to small organic fertilizer companies. These top 5 companies mainly operated in its own regions. Thus, the competition is still not fierce. We may see more M&A and competitions in 2-3 years.
The overall fertilizer market in China is estimated to be a $50B, which is estimated to grow about 30% a year from 2005 to 2009. Yongye is marketing in ten Provinces and is estimated to grow appproximatly 70% to 75% in 2009. So far, its main product: “Shengmingsu” plant nutrient product has about 2% market share.