Amazing Aerogels: All About the Aspen Aerogels IPO

Aerogels are one of the world’s most exotic nanomaterials, but just what are they? The below description of Aerogels was taken from thenanoage.com:

Aerogels are non-toxic nanoporous materials that have the highest thermal insulation value, the lowest density, the highest specific surface area, the lowest refractive index, the lowest speed of sound and the lowest dielectric constant of any solid. Aerogels consist of a foam-like network of molecules that is 99.8% air. Silica Aerogel holds six world records for physical properties.

The superior properties of aerogels make for some pretty impressive demonstrations such as those seen below:

Aerogels_Demonstration

In the above picture, one can see how a flower placed under a butane burner can be protected from the flame by a small aerogel mat, demonstrating the superior insulating properties this material possesses. One company that specializes in insulation applications for aerogels and recently filed for an IPO is Aspen Aerogels.

About Aspen Aerogels

Click for company website

This interesting company was first brought to our attention in 2009 by one of our readers who noted they raised $37 million in 2008 from VCs. Founded in 2001, Massachusetts based Aspen Aerogels originally filed for a $115 million IPO in June 2011, but withdrew its plans in May 2013. Late last month, Aspen filed again for an IPO to raise up to $86 million. As of April 15, 2014, the Company had 220 employees and an accumulated deficit so far of around $332 million. From 2008 through 2013, Aspen’s product revenue grew at a compound annual growth rate of 37% to $82.1 million. Gross profit increased $18.7 million to $10.7 million in 2013 from a gross loss of $8.0 million in 2012. If Aspen is able to sustain this growth rate, revenues would rise to nearly $400 million by 2018 which would represent just 11% of the forecasted $3.5 billion energy insulation end market.

Aerogel_End_Market

Aspen currently operates through a global network of over 40 insulation distributors.  In 2013, 68% of Aspen’s product revenue was generated outside the United States. 24 of the top 25 refining companies worldwide and 19 of the world’s top 20 petrochemical companies use Aspen Aerogels’ products. Their annual production capacity is currently 40 million to 44 million square feet of aerogel blankets, and in 2013 they shipped 35.5 million square feet of product.

The Products

The company’s main two product lines provide superior insulation for both hot and cold applications. Pyrogel® XT-E is the most effective high-temperature insulation material in the industrial market, and typically 2-5 times thinner than other widely used insulation products.  Cryogel® Z cryogenic insulation is used in below-ambient-temperature applications in the oil and gas processing industry and has the lowest k-value of any widely used cryogenic insulation material, reducing thicknesses by 50%-80%. Both these products offer up to five times better high-thermal performance than competing insulation products. Aspen Aerogels’ intellectual property portfolio for these products is supported by 51 issued patents, with an additional 18 pending in U.S. and foreign jurisdictions.

Aspen is not the only provider of aerogels. Cabot (NYSE:CBT) has been producing its aerogel since 2003 and claims to be the only company to develop a commercialized process that allows continuous production of the material under ambient conditions. Nonetheless, Aspen has been able to demonstrate a demand for their product as evidenced by their strong revenue growth over the past five years. If Aspen can scale to sustain this growth in the coming years, they may provide a compelling case for investors who want exposure to this very unique nanomaterial. Aspen Aerogels plans to list on the NYSE under the symbol ASPN.

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2 thoughts on “Amazing Aerogels: All About the Aspen Aerogels IPO

  1. I understand that from 2001 through 2010, Aspen did not make a profit, according to SEC filings related to it’s IPO. My question is, how did they continue to run a business if they had no funds coming in. I understand that later, they were able to get money from the IPO, but how did they last 9 years prior with no money.

    1. Good question Jacquie. They were most likely funded through private capital, the firms of which now can realize an exit with this successful IPO.

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