Green Plains reports record fourth quarter production volumes

By Erin Voegele | February 12, 2016

Green Plains Inc. has released fourth quarter financial results, reporting a net loss of $3.6 million, or a loss of 9 cents per share, for the three-month period. During the same quarter of 2014, the company reported net income of $42.2 million, or $1.07 per diluted share. Revenues were $739.9 million for the fourth quarter, compared with $829.9 million for the same quarter of the prior year. Earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the fourth quarter of 2015 was $32.5 million compared with $91.1 million for the same period last year.

"The company performed well in a challenging margin environment with over $32 million in EBITDA this quarter," stated Todd Becker, president and chief executive officer. "We were profitable before tax but an unusually high effective tax rate led to a small EPS loss this quarter. With that said, we achieved a record 261 million gallons of ethanol production for the fourth quarter of 2015 and benefitted from our diversified platform. Our agribusiness, marketing and distribution, and partnership segments all reported solid results for the fourth quarter."

Green Plains produced 260.8 million gallons of ethanol during the fourth quarter, or approximately 93.9 percent of its daily average production capacity. The consolidated ethanol crush margin was $29.8 million, or 11 cents per gallon, for the fourth quarter of 2015, compared with $94.2 million, or 38 cents per gallon, for the same period in 2014. The consolidated ethanol crush margin is the ethanol production segment's operating income before depreciation and amortization, which includes corn oil production, plus intercompany storage, transportation and other fees.

For the full year 2015, Green Plains reported net income attributable to the company of $7.1 million, or 18 cents per diluted share. In 2014, the company reported net income of $159.5 million, or $3.96 per diluted share. Revenues for the year were $3 billion, down from $3.2 billion in 2014. EBITDA was $127.8 million for the twelve months ended Dec. 31, 2015, compared with $352.5 million for the same period last year.

"Even with strong global and domestic ethanol blending growth, U.S. production continues to outpace demand for the time being," continued Becker. "We are carefully managing our supply chain and production levels in the first quarter until the forward curve shows some measurable improvement as we approach stronger seasonal demand."

During an investor call, Becker indicated the company’s ethanol plant in Hopewell, Virginia, resumed ethanol production this week. Improvement in the quality of distillers production has been completed, he said, noting the company expects that it will achieve better than historical sales prices at that plant.

According to Becker, Green Plains produced a record 261 million gallons of ethanol during the fourth quarter of last year. The recently acquired Hereford, Texas, ethanol plant contributed 11.9 million gallons of that volume during the six weeks the company owned the facility last year. In addition, Becker said Green Plains generated a record 68.1 million pounds of corn oil, processed 90.7 million bushels of corn and produced more than 700,000 tons of distillers grains during the quarter. The company achieved record ethanol yields of 2.88 gallons per bushel of corn along with record corn oil yields of 0.75 pounds per bushel.

Becker said the company’s Phase 1 ethanol production expansion program added 35 million gallons of capacity through the end of the year. The remaining 50 million gallons of capacity expansion has slowed. However, Becker stressed that the expansion strategy was a long-term initiative that was really put into place for 2017, when Green Plains expects demand to outpace supply globally.

Regarding future expansion plans, Becker said Green Plains overall CapEx program is expected to slow over the next year until the market clearly sends a signal to start investing again. However, he also noted that if the right opportunity presents itself to grow the company either vertically or horizontally, the company wants to be in a position to move quickly.

According to Becker, Green Plains export sales accounted for 12 percent of its production in the fourth quarter. For 2015, it was 18 percent. He also stated that Green Plains accounted for 20 percent of the U.S. export market in 2015 although the company represents only 6.5 percent of U.S. ethanol production capacity. During the first quarter of this year, Green Plains expects to sell 19 percent of its production into the export market, with sales destined for Oman, Europe, India, Philippines, Canada, Peru and China.