Exclusive update

Clean Energy Fuels (Nasdaq: CLNE) released earnings for the third quarter of 2012. The company beat expectations all the way around this quarter, reporting a non-GAAP loss of $0.19 per share versus a loss of $0.11 per share during the same quarter last year. Revenue of $91.5 million was up more than 25% over the same quarter last year as well. It's also worth noting that revenue from last year's quarter included $4.5 million in volumetric excise tax credit, revenue that was not available in this year's quarter.

One of the most important metrics to keep an eye on with Clean Energy is gallons delivered. This quarter marked another milestone with 50.9 million gallons delivered versus 40.9 million gallons in the same quarter last year, representing 24% growth.

Hurricane Sandy was obviously a big influence on this quarter for many companies, including Clean Energy Fuels. The company has 49 stations that were right in the path of the storm; amazingly, after the storm passed through, they had all 49 stations back up and running, enabling public transit and other vital transportation providers to function without much delay. This is certainly aiding in the recovery efforts.

Industry news is growing more encouraging for natural gas as a viable transportation fuel. Governors from 22 states recently issued a joint request for proposal for Detroit's Big Three automakers to provide natural gas vehicles for their respective states' fleets. In addition, a new partnership signed with Virginia to convert the state's fleet vehicles to natural gas and provide the fueling options for these vehicles may serve as an effective model for other states to consider in their potential adoption of natural gas. Furthermore, FedEx is now testing integration of natural gas vehicles into its business model, which serves as an additional validation for natural gas as an excellent alternative, particularly for fleets and trucks. America's Natural Gas Highway remains on track to have 70 stations completed by year's end, as well as 64 additional stations in process for next year.

Here's a brief rundown of some of the highlights from Clean Energy's core markets, per the call:

  • Refuse: There were 462 new compressed natural gas trucks delivered to CLNE customers to go with another 434 trucks that have been ordered. A new partnership with Covanta highlighted the quarter.
  • Taxi/Airport/Shuttle: New stations are coming to JFK and Chicago O'Hare airports, as well as agreements for facilities at airports in Orlando, Cincinnati, and San Diego.
  • Transit: Awarded four transit stations in Dallas, as well as stations in Richmond and Anaheim, to fuel city bus fleets.

While Clean Energy does not provide specific guidance (and we applaud this), the question is inevitably asked every quarter. CEO Andrew Littlefair addressed his view on the coming quarters as such:

"I think 2013 will be a year of testing and adoption. There will be some significant volume growth. I think companywide you will see our core markets grow at a substantial, probably similar to a little bit higher than we did this year. America's Natural Gas Highway will be back loaded in 2013. And I think the significant growth you will in probably the beginning of 2014."

Another successful quarter in the books for Clean Energy Fuels. The investment thesis for this company continues to maintain a long time frame as adoption rates slowly edge up and the build-out for America's Natural Gas highway moves forward.

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