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Biofuel firm Codexis opens at low end in IPO

Codexis, which produces enzymes and catalysts for biofuels and greener chemicals, raises $78 million as this year's first IPO of a U.S.-based green tech company.

Biotech company Codexis, which sells catalysts for biofuel production, went public on the stock market on Thursday, opening at the low end of its anticipated price range.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based company sold 6 million shares on Nasdaq for $13, raising $78 million. It had planned to sell them between $13 and $15. The company, which has a market capitalization of about $441 million, had originally hoped for an initial public offering in 2008, according to reports.

Instead, its debut marks this year's first IPO for a U.S.-based green-tech company.

Codexis is a biotech company that produces enzymes and biocatalysts that can be used to make chemical processes cleaner and more efficient. Codexis

Codexis has customers in the pharmaceutical industry for its custom enzymes and catalysts, which make industrial chemical processes more efficient and cleaner, according to the company. Among its investors is oil giant Shell, which is working with Codexis on enzymes to speed up production of biofuels from nonfood sources.

The company had revenue of $82.9 million last year, which was a 64 percent increase from the previous year. Its losses fell 55 percent in that period to $20.3 million. According to its prospectus, the company expects it will not be profitable until 2011.

Codexis is one of a few U.S.-based clean-energy companies going public or planning to do so this year. Others include solar company Solyndra, Tesla Motors, and Amyris Biotechnologies. Battery maker A123 Systems went public last fall.

The performance of the IPOs for these companies is being closely watched as many venture investors are eager for returns on their portfolio companies. But there is some concern that these initial companies seeking to go public do not have a clear path to profitability, which could sour investor sentiment toward green tech.