A year ago, almost to the day, we saw a barnburner of a battery IPO, as A123 Systems (Nasdaq: AONE) took the markets by storm. From an initial pricing of $13.50, the shares roared higher, to over twice that price, in the following sessions. The follow-on performance has been even more dismal than I had expected.

The IPO market has cooled considerably in 2010, especially for alternative energy-related companies. Several firms, like Solyndra and Trony Solar, have pulled their offerings. Codexis (Nasdaq: CDXS) is priced at $13, the low end of its expected range, and trades hands at less than $10 today. JinkoSolar (NYSE: JKS) is the notable exception, having soared higher since its May debut.

This week, Amyris (Nasdaq: AMRS) became the latest alternative energy name to grace the public stage. Before we get to the business, here's a quick rundown of the numbers, based on the recent share price of $17.20:

Share Structure and Capitalization


Shares outstanding

43 million

Market capitalization

$739.3 million

Cash and equivalents

$294.2 million


$12.8 million

Enterprise value

$457.9 million

Book value

$335.3 million

Source: Company filings.

Right off the bat, Amyris doesn't look glaringly expensive in the way that A123 did last year. With $68.1 million in trailing revenue, however, the enterprise is still valued at well over six times sales. This isn't a cheap date, either.

Of course, anyone buying Amyris today is looking to a future in which the synthetic biology shop achieves its goal of becoming "the leading provider of renewable specialty chemicals and transportation fuels worldwide." If that future unfolds, today's share price would be but a pittance.

Now what are the chances that Amyris will actually dominate the renewables scene? That's an extremely tough one to handicap, and I'm going to need more time to study this company. For now, I will say that I like the choice to focus on Brazilian sugarcane as a feedstock, given the strength and stability of that industry relative to the U.S. ethanol scene. I especially like the decision to take a capital light approach to scaling up production through potential partners like Cosan (NYSE: CZZ) and Bunge (NYSE: BG).

I'll circle back with more detailed thoughts once I've had time to dig deeper into Amyris' prospectus.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.