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Here's a Glimmer of Good News for Clean Energy Fuels

Alex Planes
August 7, 2012

Clean Energy Fuels (Nasdaq: CLNE  ) managed to beat low expectations for another quarter, with adjusted net losses of $0.16 per share coming in $0.02 better than consensus estimates from Wall Street. Clean Energy's GAAP earnings came in even better, with $11.3 million in losses amounting to a loss of $0.13 per share thanks to several accounting necessities.

The market, which has been in the habit of tossing Clean Energy and closely linked Westport Innovations (Nasdaq: WPRT  ) wildly in both directions this past year, seemed to shrug. Clean Energy ended the day up "only" 5%, and Westport was flat. Let's take a look at what the latest results mean for Clean Energy and the nat gas fueling movement it hopes will soon kick into high gear.

What the numbers tell you
I put together a graph that shows Clean Energy's financial progress over the past few quarters, including the most recent one. A few things should stand out:

Source: Morningstar and company earnings report.

For one thing, gross profit has been remarkably consistent despite fairly major moves on both top and bottom lines. That can be a good sign in times of weak revenue -- Clean Energy had been expected to post $80.1 million in revenue this quarter, but only managed $69.8 million. For another thing, Clean Energy is finally starting to push its bottom line back toward profitability. There's one easy way to figure out why that's happening, and here it is:

US Natural Gas Wellhead Price Chart

US Natural Gas Wellhead Price data by YCharts

Since the start of the second quarter, the price of the United States Natural Gas Fund (NYSE: UNG  ) has risen 22%. While wellhead prices haven't been updated to reflect this rise, it's safe to say we'll see a bigger uptick when July's results come in. Clean Energy delivered 48.6 mill