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Renewable Energy Group Inc (NASDAQ:REGI)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
May 3, 2021, 4:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Greetings and welcome to Renewable Energy Group, Inc.'s Q1 2021 Earnings Conference Call.

[Operator Instructions]

I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Jacob Schwaegler with Investor Relations for Renewable Energy. Thank you. You may begin.

Jacob Schwaegler -- Investor Relations

Thank you Devon. Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our first quarter 2021 earnings conference call. With me today is REG's President and Chief Executive Officer, CJ Warner; our new Chief Financial Officer, Craig Bealmear and our newly appointed Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Vice President of Investor Relations, Todd Robinson. Todd will be discussing our financial results later in the call. So I'm stepping in today to assist in the role normally reserved for the Head of Investor Relations. Let me cover a few housekeeping items before I turn the call over to CJ.

First, I would like to remind everyone that this call is being webcast and is available at the Investor Relations section of our website at regi.com. A replay will be available on our website later this afternoon. The webcast includes an accompanying slide deck which will appear automatically with the webcast, but you will need to advance the slides manually as we prompt you. For those of you dialing in, the slide deck along with the earnings press release can be downloaded from the Investor Relations section of our website. Turning to Slide 3. We would like to advise you that some of the information discussed on this conference call will contain forward-looking statements. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict and assumptions that may or may not prove to be correct. Such forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of performance. The company's actual results could differ materially from those contained in such statements. Many factors could cause or contribute to those differences. These factors are described in detail in the Risk Factors and other sections of our Form 10-K and subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q which are on file with the SEC. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this call. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements based on new information or revised expectations. Today's discussion also includes non-GAAP financial measures. We believe these metrics will help investors assess the operating performance of our core business. Please see the press release or the appendix to the accompanying slide deck for a reconciliation of the non-GAAP measures to the most comparable GAAP measure.

With that, let me turn the call over to our President and CEO, CJ Warner. CJ?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Jacob and good afternoon everyone. Before we get into the discussion around first quarter results, I want to publicly welcome Craig Bealmear, REG's new CFO to the team. Craig joined us just two weeks ago, bringing to REG of breadth and depth of the accounting and finance functions with specific senior experience in the world of refining and marketing. Some of you already have had a chance to chat with Craig and he is looking forward to meeting many more of you very soon. In turn, I would also like to thank Todd Robinson for serving us so well as Interim CFO and who will now become Deputy CFO, also retaining his responsibilities as Treasurer and VP, Investor Relations. These two strong leaders will help us progress our growth program with operational excellence and their appointments demonstrate REG's ongoing drive to build outstanding talent.

I am pleased to be reporting today on our strong first quarter results. One year ago, we reported in the midst of the market turmoil caused by the crude oil price wars, coupled with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we are all encouraged now that the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel seems to grow brighter each day, we did continue to feel an impact on our operations and workplace as well as in our feedstock markets during the first quarter of this year. These conditions have been a stress test for REG and the bio-based diesel industry as a whole. We believe our results prove the strength and resiliency of our people, our business model and the strength of customer demand for lower carbon fuels. As shown on Slide 4, we're pleased to report quarterly revenues of $540 million, net income of $39 million, adjusted EBITDA of $56 million and 134 million gallons sold. These results are a reflection of the REG's team's capability and determination, and our continued drive to act and operate in line with our core values.

Slide 5 outlines the broad drivers of performance in the first quarter of 2021 as compared against first quarter 2020. First quarter 2021 faced several relative headwinds, not the least of which was that we remain in the challenging economic and social context of the pandemic, which had not yet taken hold during much of first quarter 2020. We also had the effect of the planned Geismar turnaround this year in first quarter. Risk management also shows up as a comparative headwind to this quarter. Remembering back to first quarter 2020, there was a huge drop in crude prices experienced as part of the crude price wars and the initial onset of the pandemic with commensurate pressure on our margins, resulting in a large uptick in risk management as our system is designed to do. And finally, margins are down somewhat versus first quarter 2020. On the other hand, we were able to realize significant upside through commercial optimization and downstream performance, both of which also helped to drive increased RIN and LCFS associated profitability.

Let's go into some of these factors in a bit more detail. We completed a 31 day turnaround at our Geismar Louisiana facility in the quarter. The Geismar turnaround was successfully executed safely on time and within budget. In addition to the 2021 planned maintenance and upgrade projects for the Geismar turnaround, our team completed two carryover projects from 2020 that we intentionally deferred last year due to the workplace challenges introduced by the early days of the pandemic. We believe the projects completed as part of the Geismar turnaround will increase our competitive advantage for years to come, including proprietary improvements that are intended to extend the time between turnarounds, increase annual throughput and decrease cost per gallon. Most importantly, this turnaround was completed with no recordable injuries or on-site COVID transmissions. In fact, we're pleased to report, no recordable injuries or known workplace COVID transmissions across our entire business in the first quarter. Our core value of safety always clearly guides the REG team as our total recordable incident rate, which includes any workplace COVID transmissions shown on Slide 6 remains below the pre-COVID industry average. As always, we are dedicated to continuous improvement and learning with a goal of reaching Vision Zero. Another core value that guides us is a commitment to driving results. This focus helped us to achieve solid financial performance despite the external challenges I outlined earlier. Production was down versus first quarter of last year on a planned basis with respect to RD, which was down 8 million gallons due to the turnaround. As a reminder, the Geismar turnaround in 2020 took place in the early part of the second quarter. Biodiesel production at our European facilities was also down by 3 million gallons, due largely to COVID related international supply disruptions of used cooking oil and biodiesel production at our North American facilities was down 11 million gallons due to our continuing margin optimization efforts as well as unplanned downtime caused by the extreme cold in Houston and the Midwest.

Slide 7 shows the impact these production declines had on our self-produced gallons. In contrast, gallons sold were off just 4% versus last year and revenue was up 14%. The growth in revenue was generated by a significant increase in our average selling price for bio-based diesel driven by an increase in D4 RIN pricing and to a lesser extent, ULSD year-over-year. While sales of self-produced RD gallons were down due to the turnaround, total sales of RD gallons were up driven by third-party gallons sold. Sales of Ultra Clean our proprietary BD/RD blend continued to strengthen robustly, up 47% compared to the first quarter of last year as shown on Slide 8. Both third-party RD sales and Ultra Clean sales enable us to capture additional margin both through RD and the BD that we blend with it. Overall, US market demand for bio-based diesel continues to strengthen.

The chart on Slide 9 shows petroleum product demand is still recovering from COVID, down 7% from Q1 2020 for gasoline and distillate and down 35% for jet. In contrast, even in this environment, bio-based diesel has continued to grow with demand up 8% in 2020 versus 2019% and 1% in the first quarter of 2021 versus first quarter of 2020. As demand for bio-based diesel increases and actual and planned production ramps up, feedstock availability remains top of mind. Feedstock prices continued to rise in the first quarter as shown on Slide 10 with soybean oil price being the primary factor. We believe there are many drivers behind this increase, including a harvest delay in South America, an increase in restaurant and food service demand for cooking oils and continued global supply uncertainty based on delayed impacts from COVID. I would also like to note, our expectation is that higher prices will incentivize more soybean acres to be planted in the US this year. Forward market prices seem to support this expectation as shown by the forward soybean curve on Slide 11, which is significantly backwardated. Notably, the price differentials between soybean oil and waste based feedstocks were better in first quarter 2021 than first quarter 2020 which we believe provided an optimization upside in the quarter. Looking ahead, ethanol production is recovering, animal fat from meat production is projected to return to pre-pandemic annual norms and the soybean and canola industries continue to announce expansions of North American crushing capacity, which will increase vegetable oil production.

With that as a backdrop, let me quickly highlight our feedstock performance as a company. We believe that REG's wide slate of available feedstock, best-in-class pre-treatment capabilities and long-term supplier relationships are significant competitive advantages for us and these advantages can be most valuable when the markets are volatile. Our data shows that we were able to capture our cost benefit versus the market on our slate of feedstocks used in first quarter production. The ability to pre-treat different feeds and optimize the feedstock, including quickly adjusting the purchased feed mix is a key element to success in this area. Slide 12 shows our updated feedstock mix, shifting suddenly from the fourth quarter of 2020 and clearly normalizing from the drastic changes required in the first half of last year when restaurant closures and lower ethanol production required a rapid shift to soybean oil. In keeping with our history of regularly expanding our range of feedstock types and sources, we continue to pursue new and novel sources of feedstock. For example, in late March, we announced a strategic investment in CoverCress as noted on Slide 13. CoverCress is developing a new oilseed crop intended to be grown over the winter when fields would normally be fallow. We believe this cover crop derives from field penny cress, could offer significant environmental benefits, including enhanced soil carbon sequestration and soil and nutrient retention and therefore harmful and expensive runoff prevention. In addition, it produces an oilseed from which we expect to derive a high quality, low carbon intensity oil feedstock. We believe this developing crop and other cover crops like it offer promise as new environmentally beneficial and scalable sources of raw material for producing bio-based diesel. We are very pleased to be able to contribute to the efforts of this innovative company and to fostering the potential commercialization of CoverCress. Now, although feed prices ramped up substantially in the quarter, so did RIN values, and to a lesser degree, product prices. As shown on Slide 15, because of the drastic increase in soybean oil prices coupled with a less dramatic increase in heating oil price, the HOBO spread fell to a negative $0.87 per gallon for the quarter, a substantial decrease from first quarter 2020 HOBO spread of $0.29 a gallon. However, RIN prices responded accordingly and the HOBO plus 1.5 RIN spread has continued to hold relatively steady at $0.92 a gallon, down just $0.05 versus first quarter last year. We never predict future moves in RIN prices, but we are encouraged by this trend of RINs functioning as a hedge to HOBO and working as designed to incentivize production to meet the RVO. On the subject of RINs, we continue to hear that the EPA should be releasing the proposed 2021 RVO sometime this summer to be finalized later this year. And there continue to be positive development on the state regulatory front. Washington State passed both the clean fuel standard and a cap and trade policy, which is anticipated to begin in 2023. With our 100 million gallon nameplate Grays Harbor biorefinery, we believe we are well positioned to help the state meet their carbon reduction goals. This major development along with the biodiesel tax credit, RFS II and other existing low carbon programs including California's, Oregon's, and British Columbia's continue to demonstrate support for growing demand for our fuels.

We are also seeing momentum in other states including Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, New Mexico and New York. These states are all making efforts to pass legislation that increases the use of bio-based diesel. Outside of the US, the Canadian Clean Fuel Standard proposed for late 2022 is on track and a separate proposal has been floated in Ottawa to raise taxes on greenhouse gas emissions. Market signals and regulatory activity continue to indicate the potential for an aggressive ramp up over the next decade. Beyond regulatory support, we are continuing to see consumer demand fostered by their desire and by the desire in turn of their customers to lower their carbon footprint, a growing number of commercial enterprises municipalities and other institutions have been announcing significant decarbonization targets and are seeking solutions that enable them to meet their goals. As we have commented before, this is why we feel we are at an inflection point in the energy transition, moving from a primarily regulatory driven push to a customer pull. With this strong backdrop, we continue to drive our growth strategy forward. A notable portion of this strategy is the Geismar expansion, which is progressing as planned. Our recent equity raise was an important step in this process. Todd will provide more color on the raise and on overall progress at Geismar in his remarks. In addition to our plans at Geismar, we believe our downstream strategy will drive growth and margin capture. As I mentioned earlier REG Ultra Clean continues to be a standout performer growing rapidly year-over-year. Our downstream growth strategy ties in perfectly with the expansion at Geismar with the goal of providing returns on multiple fronts as it would give us more high margin renewable diesel exposure and more of our biodiesel gallons of margin uplift through blending and placement in carbon incentivized markets. In addition to the strong growth of Ultra Clean, we are seeing B100 continue to grow as a readily available and easy to adopt sustainable solution. Through our partnership with Optimus Technologies, fleet customers in Iowa, Washington DC and Massachusetts have begun the switch to 100% biodiesel as shown on Slide 16. Customer enthusiasm for this program has been positive, as they have been able to operate year round, even during extreme cold weather. Adoption of B100 can be done quickly with very low switching costs and it provides one of the fastest paths to deep decarbonization. Today's customers desire these types of products that benefit both the environment and the economy. As a pioneer and a leader in global sustainability, REG is proud to be a significant and growing part of this movement.

As I mentioned, many businesses have announced significant carbon reduction targets and are seeking options and solutions required to meet those targets. And many of the hoped for [Phonetic] solutions are not yet technically let alone commercially available. We are proud to have already adopted a sustainable business model that reduces carbon substantially and does so now. As most of you know, we recycle waste products into clean burning fuels that enable our customers to significantly reduce their carbon emissions with arguably the simplest and lowest cost of available options. Slide 17 shows our environmental net contribution of over 800,000 metric tons of reduced carbon emissions for first quarter 2021. This carbon reduction profile will be highlighted in detail in REG's second annual ESG report, which will be released soon. We are proud of our sustainable track record, are energized by our plan for the future and we stand right here right now to meet the needs of the low carbon economy at scale.

Now I will turn the call over to Todd to review our financial performance for the first quarter. Todd?

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thank you, CJ and good afternoon everyone. Slide 18 shows our first quarter results. As CJ mentioned, we had a strong first quarter. First, revenue increased 14%. This increase was mostly driven by higher average selling prices, including RINs. North American biodiesel in particular experienced a significant boost in average selling price, up 38%. As a reference, RIN prices were up $0.73 per RIN over 158% while ULSD prices were 14% higher versus first quarter of 2020. The increase in average selling price was partially offset by a lower volume of gallons sold. Gallons sold declined slightly versus last year, down 4%. This was in line with our guidance based on the turnaround at Geismar. REG produced renewable diesel sales were down slightly, because of the turnaround and we optimize our sales by routing more product to Norway. European biodiesel sales were down significantly due to increased lockdowns which impacted both feedstock availability and fuel demand. Finally, as CJ mentioned earlier, first quarter adjusted EBITDA at $56 million beat guidance. This outsized beat was a result of multiple factors, lower realized feedstock costs than we forecasted, higher RIN values, more RINs monetized as we continue to optimize margin capture across our network and lower risk management loss. As you may recall from last quarter, when we provided guidance, we anticipated building RIN inventory in Q1 for a variety of reasons, including short-term lack of liquidity in the RIN market due to Houston being shut down from the winter storm, a large number of RIN traders and buyers are located in Houston. RIN values increased after we provided guidance and liquidity returned to the market. We took advantage of this to monetize more RINs and reduced the RIN inventory build. Q1 adjusted EBITDA was down compared to the $89 million of adjusted EBITDA we produced in the first quarter of 2020. The largest factor leading to the decrease was a $55 million negative swing in risk management. As a reminder, we recognized a $54 million risk management gain in the first quarter of 2020 due to the historic drop in ULSD prices last March. Our risk management strategy functioned as planned to counter that drop and also because of the timing factors pulled some profitability from second quarter 2020 into first quarter of 2020. Additionally, we captured $18 million more profit from RINs and LCFS credits in Q1 2020 versus Q1 of 2020. SG&A expenses were up $4 million, driven by an increase in legal and professional related expenses, higher stock compensation due to the increase in our stock price, larger vacation accrual due to COVID-related deferrals of time off and a higher bonus accrual. SG&A was flat last year as a percentage -- was flat to last year as a percentage of revenue. Slide 19 shows trailing 12 month adjusted EBITDA and Slide 20 shows our trailing 12 months return on invested capital. Note that Q2 2020 is included in the trailing 12-month number where adjusted EBITDA was only $6 million due to the pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, much of the risk management that covered Q2 2020 performance was realized in the first quarter of 2020. Because of this impact and to better illustrate our outlook and how that low quarter is currently affecting the trailing 12 month result, we've calculated a pro forma trailing 12-month view based on the low end of our second quarter 2021 guidance which CJ will discuss shortly. As a reminder, our internal threshold for growth project is above 20% internal IRR and our target of ROIC is above 15%. And based on our second quarter guidance, we expect to be back above 15% return on invested capital. We did recognize a small tax expense in the first quarter and going forward, we expect our tax rate to continue to be less than 5%. Our blended average interest rate continues to be low and is currently less than 4%.

Now let's turn to the balance sheet, as shown on Slide 21. As of March 31, we had over $600 million in cash and marketable securities when you include the long-term portion of marketable securities. Obviously, our cash position has been bolstered by the recent equity raise. The equity raise was an important part of our planning for Geismar as we secured $365 million in cash, net of fees. We remain on track to reach a final investment decision soon and we are submitting permit applications to the normal course of the project. We have strong support from the local community and the State of Louisiana for Geismar Train B. Recall that 2021 Board approved capex in keeping with our capital allocation included roughly $20 million for safety, reliability and asset integrity, roughly $30 million for high return rapid payback projects and another $30 million on engineering for Geismar and other future growth projects. In addition to our capex budget, the framework also contemplates funding of potential strategic projects and acquisitions. We had three convertible bondholders to conversion notice recently. So, we settled two in March and one in April with $28.3 million in cash for the principal and approximately 2.3 million shares for the premium. In addition, we provided notification to our bondholders, that we will redeem all outstanding 2036 convertible senior notes on June 15, 2021, again settling the principal with cash and shares for the premium.

Now I will turn the call back over to CJ to discuss the second-quarter outlook.

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Todd. I will now discuss our second quarter 2021 guidance as well as a general outlook for the year ahead. For context, I'd like to touch once more on the current market environment, specifically with respect to feedstock prices. Current prices, especially for soybean oil are higher and more volatile than the market has seen since 2008 and any forecast must be made with caution in respect to these price movements. Having said that, we are confident in our optimization abilities and have strategies and approaches that seek to enable us to operate profitably in these conditions. This includes our multi-feedstock capabilities and the optimization upside that offers. As a reminder, typically over 75% of our feedstocks are lower CI waste-based materials. With that in mind, let's turn to the numbers as shown on Slide 23.

For the second quarter, we are targeting adjusted EBITDA of $65 million to $85 million with gallons sold in the range of 155 million to 175 million. This equates to an estimated first half adjusted EBITDA performance of between $120 million and $140 million and a gallons sold estimate roughly between 290 million and 310 million. This guidance includes $14 million of estimated risk management gain for the quarter as of April 26. For the full year, we are targeting gallons sold in the range of 630 million to 670 million gallons, down slightly from 660 million to 700 million gallons, to reflect our lower production in first quarter. We expect to produce 470 million 500 million gallons, which is down from 490 million to 520 million gallons for the same reason. Of course, any changes to ULSD prices, margins, RINs or LCFS credit values or a level of market volatility through the end of the quarter could affect actual results. Shipment timing could also affect timing of revenue recognition. Our strong performance in a volatile first quarter gives us added confidence as the US economy appears to be returning to something closer to normal. We believe we are well positioned to capitalize on our strategy as we pursue long-term growth in renewable diesel combined with near-term tactical growth in the downstream. The world today is undergoing a profound and exciting energy transition intended to put us on a path to environmental and economic sustainability. REG has an important and growing role in this effort. Our fuels can drive this transition today right now, offering substantial carbon and emission reductions with drop in fuels that require little to no change in infrastructure, operating costs or customer investment. Our feedstocks are 100% renewable and support both the ag economy and the circular recycling economy. Whilst government policies are encouraging the energy transition, while the private markets are realizing the benefits we offer today, we have never been more excited about our growth prospects and look forward to creating meaningful value for our customers, employees, shareholders and all of society.

And with that, I'd like to turn the call over to Devon for the question and answer segment of our call. Devon?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions]

Our first question comes from the line of Craig Irwin with ROTH Capital Partners. Please proceed with your question.

Craig Irwin -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Good evening, and thanks for taking my questions. Most important, I guess is the RINs sold from inventory. So, you did kind of say in there more RINs were monetized. But can you spell out in some detail sort of what the inventory position was at the beginning and end of the quarter and how much more from inventory are we talking about this quarter?

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Hey, Craig, Todd here. Thanks for the question. Yeah, we figured, this would be a topic of conversation. So when we gave our first quarter guidance back in February, we indicated $25 million value kind of at the end of first quarter based on our forecast. And again, based on my comments, we were able to monetize more RINs and obviously prices were a lot higher in the quarter. So we were able to take advantage of that to some extent. If you look at what prices were when we gave guidance, I think they were around $1 per RIN. And then if you look at what they averaged in the quarter, I think it was closer to like $1.20 or something like that. And then certainly in March, they were even higher than that like around $1.40. So we were able to monetize more than what we forecast. So our inventory build didn't get to that $25 million at the end of first quarter as we anticipated.

Craig Irwin -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

So just to clarify, does that mean that there was a $30 million to $35 million benefit in the quarter from selling those RINs or did you exit the quarter with a greater RIN inventory then where you began it?

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

No. So it was quite a bit lower than that $25 million number Craig. It was probably around $16 million at the end of the quarter on an actual basis.

Craig Irwin -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Okay. Excellent, excellent. And then second question, can you maybe discuss how you handle inventory and inventory gains on feedstocks that you own? Was there any change in accounting here and is there anything that we need to understand as far as inventory carried from the fourth quarter into the second quarter?

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yeah. Craig, I'll take this. And then just to be clear, given that we got several Analysts, we need to just kind of limit it to one question for each Analyst. And then if you want, you can get back in the queue, so yes, so feedstock prices obviously are a topic recently and with the run-up in soybean oil, obviously that's been a hot topic. So yes, usually when we think about risk management gains and losses, it's usually driven by ULSD prices. But recently, with the rapid rise in soybean oil prices, we have seen -- probably I would suggest a disproportionate amount of risk management impact from soybean oil prices. So we have seen some risk management gains associated with our book as we lock-in those cash margins at the time of sale.

Craig Irwin -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Okay. But that was -- that differs a little bit from what I think you disclosed as the risk management gain in the quarter. Can you maybe talk about that?

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yes. So we had a $2 million risk management loss in the quarter compared to that significant $55 million, $54 million amount in the first quarter of 2020. So if you look at the $2 million risk management gain, excuse me, risk management loss, about two-thirds of that relates to the second quarter, otherwise the rest is first quarter.

Craig Irwin -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Okay, and then during the first quarter, we saw feedstocks go vertical. So you had gain, but Europe recording a $2 million loss. Can you just tie that up for us?

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Are you talking about forecast Craig? Are you talking about actual? I'm sorry.

Craig Irwin -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Let's talk actual.

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

So we had $2 million risk management loss with a big chunk of that -- with the sizable amount of that being risk management gains from soybean oil.

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Don't forget that, Craig, that product prices were escalating which reverses risk management for product and so it's a combination of both. And I'm sorry, we really need to let somebody else in the queue, and we'll answer your questions after everybody else gets to go through. Thanks a lot.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Manav Gupta with Credit Suisse. Please do with your question.

Manav Gupta -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hi, I want to move to Slide 12 and I know you don't give exact color codings, but let's assume for a minute the green soybean oil. Historically, it was only 25% or less than 30% and then COVID happened, everything else disappeared and it became a big part of feedstock. Now, if I look at the last bar, it looks like everything else is coming back. So you have bean oil is shrinking. So from the perspective of feedstock, I want to understand, do you see the situation normalizing where let's say, blue is used cooking oil and grey is distillers corn oil. Those feedstocks are coming back and REGI is going back to a situation where it was like 20%, 25% soybean oil and the rest is lower CPI feedstock?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hey Manav. Thanks for the question. And absolutely, we are back on track with our normal feedstock mix, which is primarily waste based and those differentials maintain their attractiveness, first is soybean oil.

Manav Gupta -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay. And one quick follow-up. Last quarter call, you talked about covered crops, alternate feedstocks, you have historically looked at new feedstocks. Can you talk about where REGI is moving with looking for newer feedstocks besides vegetable oils? And I'll leave it there.

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you. We look at new feeds all the time. In fact this last quarter, we processed I believe over 14 different types. Some of them in smaller quantities and others, as we're learning and going internationally for different sources and of course cover crop oil is one of the ones we're working on because although it's not available commercially yet, be believe it's got really significant commercializable potential for scale, as well as significant knock on environmental benefits beyond the significant one of making oil that could be converted into biobased diesel. So CoverCress cover was the one we chose to highlight this time and what we've invested in just recently because of that potential, but we continue to look at novel feedstocks like algae as well as a wide variety of other types of waste oils procured internationally.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Ryan Todd with Simmons Energy. Please proceed with your question.

Ryan Todd -- Simmons Energy -- Analyst

Great, thanks. Maybe, can I just follow up on the last -- on the last question there. I mean as you think about, you highlighted CoverCress here in the in the slide deck. I mean as -- can you give any more color on how you're thinking about timing from a scale point of view? Is that -- theoretically, is that applicable across just about anywhere that soy has grown. What are the obstacles that remain that scaling this up, any idea what the potential, like a range of a CI score would be for something like CoverCress and with the cost, would it be similar to other low CI fees. Anything more that you can give us on where that's headed?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Sure, Ryan. Thank you for the question. This is an important area and while CoverCress is very exciting, it's not the only cover crop. So bear in mind that each type of cover crop is going to have its applicability that's geographic, as well as some have better or worse possibilities between different types of crops, which is why you really want to look at a variety of things. CoverCress is being developed to grow in between soybean and corn cycle. So it's particularly well suited for the Midwest. And other cover crops are looking at potentially being plant had between say cotton crops and some of them are for more arid climates and others are for our wetter and hotter climates. So there is a variety of different types of crops that are suitable. But the reason I go to that point is that it illustrates that a cover crop can be used in multiple areas in between multiple crops, which makes it particularly scalable. And because it has these knock on environmentally beneficial effects, and they're actually economically beneficial as well for the farmer, because they do prevent the soil runoff, the need to purchase additional fertilizer, enable the farmer to actually process more or lower carbon intensive way HMH and they enable them to monetize when they would otherwise simply just have a raw expense to plant a cover crop. There are multiple benefits, both from a social as well as an environmental standpoint. They don't have additional land use implications because they are planted between crops, which makes them very good candidates for a very low CI scores. And we don't have specific scores to share at this point, but I think one can assume that they're going to be classified very closely to many of our other low CI waste based feeds.

Ryan Todd -- Simmons Energy -- Analyst

Thanks. That's really helpful, CJ. Maybe, can I just a follow up on one of the earlier questions as well. I mean I appreciate the guidance that you gave, some of the color that you gave around the RINs inventories. But as we think about your Q1 results versus the guide that you had given for Q1, outside of the delta and RIN inventories and pricing, what were the biggest -- any color on what were the biggest meaningful drivers of outperformance relative to your prior guidance?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I mean I'll let Todd embellish as needed. But there is a significant factor associated with optimization and in particular feedstock costs.

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yes, I think, Brian, one thing to think about is we are booking sales at opportune times, not necessarily pro rata throughout the quarter. So we will be opportunistic when we see the spreads widen and we'll take advantage of that and book sales during then versus just straight through the quarter. So being a little nimble helps in terms of optimization.

Ryan Todd -- Simmons Energy -- Analyst

Okay, thanks Todd.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Bertrand Donnes with Truist. Please proceed with your question.

Bertrand Donnes -- Truist -- Analyst

Afternoon guys. Could you maybe talk to the difference you're seeing between US and international markets for UCO and maybe the ability for international market to evolve over time?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. In Europe, UC is treated a little bit differently than in the US and it's because our statutes are different, but used cooking oil-based biodiesel basically gets a double credit for our renewability and that makes it a very attractive product in that market. Having said that, this particular quarter was a tougher one in Europe because Europe has gotten hit a lot harder by COVID and the shutdowns are a little bit more firm and if you combine that with the fact that much of the UCO that Europe uses comes from Asia and shipping lanes and shipping volumes have been challenged over the quarter. We did reduce our volumes for the quarter which Todd reported. But overall, the market is very attractive in Europe because of the RED II.

Bertrand Donnes -- Truist -- Analyst

All right, makes sense. Thanks.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Amit Dayal with HC Wainwright. Please proceed with your question.

Amit Dayal -- HC Wainwright -- Analyst

Thank you. With respect to the downstream strategy, could you talk about how you use this in the first quarter and how you may use sort of that optionality in managing margins for the rest of the year during this volatile period?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So the downstream strategy is very exciting for us because it enables us to accomplish multiple things. Possibly the biggest one is getting direct to that end customer and enabling that end customer to decarbonize more rapidly. What we've been learning every time we do it is their level of enthusiasm for escalating their blending levels and taking on more either renewable or biodiesel continues to grow. So there is just a connection and a volume enhancing approach and result from doing this. But the other thing that we're able to do, particularly in the carbon incentivized market is expand the blending with biodiesel and renewable diesel. And that's our Ultra Clean approach and Ultra Clean is a proprietary blend which provides reliable, high quality product and properties and the two blended together actually give the best of both worlds because biodiesel actually has a high lubricity factor which improves mileage and renewable diesel has a very high cetane number which is a very high quality burning indicator. You put those two together, you get excellent engine performance and then the two together also have really enhanced tail pipe emissions reductions from criteria pollutants standpoint. So that's why when we report the escalation of Ultra Clean diesel sales, we believe is happening because as we get our branded sales out in front of customers, their receptivity has been high. And of course, as we go downstream, we collect more of the rent along the value chain. And in our business in particular, that means taking a higher share, if not the whole share of the incentives, because the end consumer is typically not the obligated party. And so the incentives aren't part of the proposition for them, they just want a high quality, very low carbon intensive fuel.

Amit Dayal -- HC Wainwright -- Analyst

Understood. And on the feedstock, again, do you think the feedstock volatility risk is higher or lower from here for the rest of the year?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, it's going to be an interesting market. As you can see from the forward curve, it's pretty heavily backwardated but there are a lot of multiple factors going on, including planting levels, harvest capability and the success or failure of that and then we've got issues in China with swine fever again. So there is a lot of unknowns. And of course with the recovery from the pandemic, the available supplies are going to move around as recovery takes place. So I think it's probably fair to say, we still have a measure of volatility in front of us and which direction that takes us in terms of absolute price is going to be interesting to follow. As I said, the futures market is making its view known through a pretty heavy backwardation. But the thing to keep in mind is regardless of whatever happens with feedstock prices, what's really important is a couple of things for us. One is the differential between soybean oil and the lower CI feeds that we actually operate in greater quantity and abundance than soybean oil by a lot. And the other one is way that the HOBO spread and the RINs work together. So the reason you're seeing escalation in RIN price is because feedstock prices were going up faster than the heating oil price. So pressing that HOBO spread and the RINs coming to balance it in order to make sure that the RVO gets produced.

Amit Dayal -- HC Wainwright -- Analyst

All right. Well, thank you for indulging -- CJ, appreciate it. That's all I had.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Hamed Khorsand with BWS Financial. Please proceed with your question.

Hamed Khorsand -- BWS Financial -- Analyst

Hi, I just wanted to understand from a competitor standpoint. Are you seeing any pressures as far as being able to source a high carbon intensity feedstock. And is that going to be contributing to further price increases on that front?

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yeah. Hamed, I'm not sure I caught the first part of that -- your question. Was it increasing low carbon feedstock prices?

Hamed Khorsand -- BWS Financial -- Analyst

There are competitive pressures that being able to source it and also the pricing pressures that come from that as well, the price inflation.

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Obviously there is a lot of potential new entrants. Keep in mind that many of them are either 100% soybean oil or a higher percentage of soy than anything else. HMH. Having said that for us, you know our multiple feedstock strategy, our finding serves us well. So if one particular type of feed or one particular source become scarce which obviously it did during the pandemic, which is a good example of this, we pivot to other feeds. So there is something about the combination of being able to pivot and be flexible, having a lot of different sources and then having the deeper relationships that we have has being an incumbent with many of our suppliers being very, very long-standing suppliers, gives us confidence of our ability to continue to source and in fact continuing to grow our sourcing, which we've been able to successfully do now for the last 10 years at about a 23% CAGR. Helps us feel confident that regardless of some of the other issues that are going on, we will be able to continue to source successfully.

Hamed Khorsand -- BWS Financial -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Matthew Blair with Tudor Pickering Holt Company. Thank you may proceed with your question.

Matthew Blair -- Tudor Pickering Holt Company -- Analyst

Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for taking my questions here I thought the Q2 guidance of -- congratulations there. Could you break out what is included in this estimate for one sales of RINs from inventory and to risk management gains and losses.

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yeah. So I think we noted risk management of about $14 million was in our second quarter guidance. We're not going to, we don't want to get in the habit of providing that level of information around our RINs just because it does. There is some competitive intelligence there in terms of what that is and how valuable it is but suffice it to say that the balance of the RIN inventory from the beginning of second excuse me, from the beginning of second quarter till the end of second quarter is going to be about flat. So it's not again -- the reason we had such a significant build in the first quarter is seasonality. So some of the -- some of you guys are new to the story. First quarter we're building inventory of finished goods as well as RINs and then generally throughout the rest of the year you don't see that. And by the end of the year our RIN inventory is trading down.

Matthew Blair -- Tudor Pickering Holt Company -- Analyst

Okay, thanks for that, Todd. And then I just wanted to -- restated earlier is that you're ending RIN inventory at the end of Q1 or was that the boost that we saw for the Q1 results.

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Yeah, I think you broke up there a little bit Matt, but I'll try to interpret what you were asking. So yes, so what we indicated when we gave first quarter guidance back in February, we indicated we are going to have about a $25 million RIN inventory at the end of first quarter, that number ended up being lower than that because we were able to monetize more. So it's about $16 million on an actual basis at the end of the first quarter great.

Matthew Blair -- Tudor Pickering Holt Company -- Analyst

Great. Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from the line of Christoph with Weber Research. Please proceed with your question.

Christoph -- Weber Research -- Analyst

Hey, guys. It's Chris on for Greg, how are you?

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Hey Chris.

Christoph -- Weber Research -- Analyst

Hey Todd. Just wanted to -- a lot [Indecipherable] with regard to the feedstock price volatility. But I guess you mentioned earlier in the Q&A section that their benefits will be in limbo, but could we kind of see you guys deploy longer-term contracts to kind of isolate the volatility from [Technical Issues]

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Chris. We're having a hard time with you too. Operator, is there something happening that we can't hear the calls very well?

Operator

It's probably just cell servicer.

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

[Speech Overlap] third-party supplies are longer-term contracts, helped to reduce volatility. So we are focused on having some longer-term contracts and that's actually one of our targets to continue to increase and at this point, we have about 30% of our feed in sort of both categories. Having said that, many of them are indexed. So it gives us sourcing confidence. But the reason we risk manage is because pricing will still be indexed in order to protect supplier and balance things out with us. I think that was what you asked. If we guessed it wrong, please repeat.

Christoph -- Weber Research -- Analyst

[Indecipherable] So you got that right. That's kind of we were looking forward. Thanks. And maybe just a quick follow-up just to sneak in. Last quarter, you guys mentioned pulling some maintenance forward into Q1. In addition to Geismar, were you guys able to complete it all by the end of quarter [Technical Issues]

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, everything that was planned for first quarter got completed. So we've been really pleased with that and ready for focused second quarter.

Christoph -- Weber Research -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks from me guys, thanks.

Operator

[Operator Instructions]

Our next question comes from the line of Jason Gabelman with Cowen and Company. Please proceed with your question.

Jason Gabelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Hi, thanks for taking my questions. First on RINs, you mentioned that RIN should essentially compensate for the difference between soybean oil and petroleum diesel. Are you seeing that to the full extent now as soybean oil prices have rapidly increased and if you assume that relationship is going to play out, is that something that's contemplated in your 2Q earnings guidance?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

You can really see from the charts that we shared, you can really see how the RIN price escalation has come in to pretty much stabilize that HOBO plus 1.5 RINs margin and that's been pretty stable now for quite a while, which gives us a pretty good look as to what we should use for our assumptions going forward.

Jason Gabelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Okay. Because that chart, which I believe is on Slide 15, it looks like it's just through the end of the quarter. It's not the total of that capturing April and May, which saw some of the more rapid appreciation of feedstocks and it seemed like the relationship broke down a bit, but I'm not sure if maybe that's not the right interpretation of what's going on.

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

You know, if you get really granular, there is a lot of breakdowns in this whole curve that you see. In fact, sometimes it takes a while for things to catch up, you need to give it a little bit more time to draw a conclusion, and you're exactly right, there has been some pretty wild volatility, which is actually why we wanted to show that forward curve on soybean oil, because that's a pretty crazy shaped curve. And we'll have to watch and as we said, we don't like to predict markets too much but history being our guide you can kind of see how the market is functioning from a market fundamental standpoint and at the end of the day the obligated parties still need to achieve that RVO. So the RINs need to come in and help make sure that that marginal gallon gets produced.

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

It's Todd, remember right, so that's soybean oil right and we're running whatever 75%, 80% of the low CI. So we are seeing much better spreads for choice white grease, used cooking oil and the low CI feedstocks that we run.

Jason Gabelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Yeah, for sure. Understood. If I could just ask separately about the downstream integration initiative that you have -- you announced selling B100 straight to fleet customers, is that -- does an agreement like that essentially enable you to capture a majority of the regulatory benefits that you wouldn't otherwise be capturing and what's kind of the opportunity set there to strike agreements with other fleets?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

It absolutely does, because it's a win-win. And we're able to capture the incentives, which keeps us developing more, and they're able to get this rapid decarbonization and when you think about these municipalities now starting to have zero carbon goals are significant carbon reduction goals. This is probably the cheapest way for them to do it. It's certainly an option that's available right now whereas many of the things they are looking at are going to take a while to get there and they don't have to retool and completely changed their fleet over and there is not a big infrastructure change. So there is some real attraction there to being able to basically do what they're doing now, but at 85% lower carbon. So that's a pretty big win.

Jason Gabelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

Great, thanks.

Operator

And our final question comes from the line of Manav Gupta with Credit Suisse. Please do with your question.

Manav Gupta -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hey, thanks for letting me back and I had a quick one, CJ. You mentioned looks like Washington is moving ahead. They could have their own clean fuel standards pretty quickly. In your opinion, how does that benefit and support the carbon price in California because we are hearing that too many projects are coming on, so there could be downward pressure on California carbon price. So, in your opinion, whether it's Canada, Washington in some other states, how does that help support the carbon price and LCFS credits?

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hey Manav, yes it's, you're right in the sweet spot on that one, the more municipalities states and others establish targets to take on more of these types of feeds, or at least to decarbonize more rapidly, the renewable diesel and the biodiesel are available now. And in California right now, renewable plus biodiesel makes up over 50% of the credits that are earned because they're available today. So as you have new states coming in and they have the same mandates in the early days when there is not much decarbonization, there is a little bit more of a wide variety of types of credits that are going to come into play, but that pool is there and it signals the need for greater volumes and it's kind of predictable, because you can see what the decarbonization level is each year. So, definitely, it's very good news for our industry that Washington is past these targets because one of the primary ways they're going to meet it is through more renewable and biodiesel consumption.

Manav Gupta -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thank you so much for taking my questions.

Operator

With that, ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the end of our question-and-answer session. And I would like to turn the call back over to Mr. Todd Robinson for closing remarks.

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Thank you Devon. We have two virtual investor conferences scheduled for May and one in June, which are shown on slide 24. Before I walk through the conferences, please note that all upcoming conferences will be virtual due to COVID-19. Attendance at these conferences is by invitation-only for clients of each respective firm. So interested investors, please contact your respective sales representative to register and for one on one meetings to secure a time. The first is May 13 when we will participate in the Credit Suisse Renewable and Utilities Conference. We will host virtual one-on-one meetings with institutional investors throughout the day. On May 19, we will participate in the 16th Annual BMO Farm to Market Conference. We will be participating in a fireside chat at 10:00 AM Eastern and we will host virtual one-on-one meetings with institutional investors throughout the day. In addition, on June 9, we will participate in the 2021 Baird Global Consumer Technology and Services Conference. We will be presenting at the conference and 2-30 Eastern and will host one-on-one meetings with investors throughout the day. Lastly, as noted on slide 25, we will be holding the annual meeting of our stockholders on May 18 at our offices in Ames starting at 10:00 AM Central. The meeting will be in person only. Thank you all again. This concludes the call. You may now disconnect.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 58 minutes

Call participants:

Jacob Schwaegler -- Investor Relations

Cynthia Warner -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Todd Robinson -- Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Craig Irwin -- ROTH Capital Partners -- Analyst

Manav Gupta -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Ryan Todd -- Simmons Energy -- Analyst

Bertrand Donnes -- Truist -- Analyst

Amit Dayal -- HC Wainwright -- Analyst

Hamed Khorsand -- BWS Financial -- Analyst

Matthew Blair -- Tudor Pickering Holt Company -- Analyst

Christoph -- Weber Research -- Analyst

Jason Gabelman -- Cowen and Company -- Analyst

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