Altra Reports Revenues, Trades Up in 2000
Bucking the tech trend, five-year-old electronic trader Altra
Energy Technologies Inc., coming off a year of trading and revenue
increases, expects to make it into the black in this first quarter
"We were here before the Internet, we lived through the Internet
browser-based tech explosion, and we're still here at the back
end," said Altra CEO Paul Bourke.
"Despite an increase in competition from significant industry
players, we experienced our best year ever throughout all divisions
of the company." Both trading exchange volumes and software sales
were up significantly in 2000, he added. While not divulging
overall trade volumes, Bourke said natural gas volumes traded on
Altra Market Place (formerly Altrade) were up by more than 35% in
2000 over 1999. The company set an all-time monthly record for the
platform in December with more than 8,000 natural gas trades.
Among the "many-to-many" platforms (as opposed to the
one-to-many, i.e. EnronOnline), Altra estimates it had about 90% of
the electronic natural gas business, 100% of the natural gas
liquids online trades and 60% of power trades. Bourke noted that
some of his new competition, ICE, TradeSpark and TrueQuote, had
only come online in the fourth quarter. "Over the first six months
of this year, we'll get a better feel for the growth of the online
market share and how it will be distributed among the different
As for the overall market share of online trading (including
EnronOnline) vs. voice/broker deals in 2000, Bourke said he
believed about 30% of natural gas trading, over 50% of gas liquids
trading and 6% to 8% of power trading occurred online. He believes
those percentages will increase and also that more financial
trading instruments will move into the online market.
The next movement will be toward integrated and back office
products, an area where Altra claims to be the "only energy
technology company that provides both an independent online trading
exchange and software products to help process the deal from
trading to scheduling to risk management to accounting." The
company said its revenue from software increased 15% year over year
as it picked up new customers from among major trading companies.
NGL trading on Altra continues to be strong, with more than 250
million bbl traded in 2000.
While its Altra ePower gained 725% in one year of trading and
set a company record last October of 21.4 million MWh traded, the
numbers should increase after the launch of a fully web-based power
platform in 1Q 2001, the company said.
While its venture capital backers, Battery Ventures and Austin
Ventures, remain firmly committed to Altra, the company will be
working to strengthen its bottom line, looking toward an eventual
initial public offering. "The view of the capital market has
changed radically in the last six months. Before there was very
little regard for the bottom line. They now are looking for
businesses more in line with traditional companies. The good news
is we will be profitable this quarter and expect to remain
profitable. This is in line with the public company mindset,"
Bourke said. There could be a window of opportunity for an IPO
either in the second half of this year or the first half of next
year. "We will be concentrating on growing and increasing our
profits to be in a position to have that alternative when the
markets open up."