Murphy USA: Hereford ethanol plant achieves record annual income

By Erin Voegele | February 05, 2015

Murphy USA Inc. has released 2014 financial results, reporting the company’s ethanol plant in Hereford, Texas, achieved record annual income of $20.1 million last year, up from $2.9 million in 2013. The increase is attributed to a 3 percent improvement in yields and higher crush spreads. Operating income for the Hereford plant was $4.1 million in the fourth quarter, up from $2.8 million during the same period of the prior year due improved efficiency in operations and improved yields. According to the company, the improved efficiencies and higher yields have resulted since the completion of the planned maintenance shutdown during the first and third quarters of last year.

Overall, Murphy USA reported income from continuing operations of $98.3 million, or $2.13 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of last year, up from $29.5 million, or 63 cents per diluted share, during the same period of 2013. For the full year, the company reported income from continuing operations of $243.1 million, or $5.24 per diluted share, up from $156.3 million, or $3.34 per diluted share for 2013.

During an investor call to discuss the annual results, Andrew Clyde, president and CEO of Murphy USA, noted improvements made to the Hereford plant resulted in higher annual throughput rates, higher yields and a reduction in direct cost. November and December yields reached 2.84 gallons per bushel, he said, resulting in an annual yield improvement of 3 percent. “We are very pleased with Hereford’s ongoing performance, as it is establishing a solid track record that will position it well for a future sale,” Clyde continued. Responding to a question about the timing of a possible sale, Clyde explained that the company wants to establish a one-year track record. He also indicated Murphy USA is making an investment in the plant to improve the total margin. That improvement is scheduled to be implemented at the end of the first quarter. Clyde also referenced the recent sale of an ethanol plant in Georgia, noting people are buying ethanol plants located outside the Midwest and paying good money for those plants.

Regarding renewable identification numbers (RINs), Clyde noted that the company generated $93 million from RINs last year, selling 195 million RINs at an average price 48 cents. In the current quarter, he said the company sold 54 million RINs at an average price of 49 cents.