Novozymes investors bet on biofuel and agricultural breakthroughs
* Shares trade at 37 times earnings vs. peer average of 21 times
* Unproven business areas key to high growth expectations
* Oil price and subsidies uncertainty have slowed biofuel progress
* Biotech farming field trials show promise
* Major breakthroughs not expected before 2019 -CEO
By Teis Jensen
COPENHAGEN, May 8 (Reuters) - Investors have high hopes for Novozymes and the enzymes it makes to improve chemical processes in a variety of industries, but analysts warn of pitfalls in a growth strategy reliant on a biofuel sector still in its infancy and unproven farming biotechnology.
Having built on mother company Novo's work in the 1940s to produce biological catalysts by fermenting them in large tanks, with its earliest products used to soften leather, Novozymes is now the world leader in enzymes that replace chemical agents in detergents and speed production of food, animal feed and corn-based bioethanol fuel.
The business has flourished since being spun off from Novo Nordisk in 2000, but to meet investors expectations it now needs widespread take-up of advanced bioethanol and success in development of microbial products to produce pest-resistent high-yield crops. Continuación...