Green Plains reports increased ethanol production, net income

By Erin Voegele | November 03, 2017

Green Plains Inc. has released third quarter financial results, reporting net income of $34.4 million, or 74 cents per diluted share, up from $7.9 million, or 20 cents per diluted share, for the same period of last year.

"We will continue to flex our production based on market conditions at each individual plant and closely monitor for needed adjustments during the remainder of the fourth quarter and into 2018," said Todd Becker, president and CEO of Green Plains. "Our food and ingredients, and partnership segments had another strong quarter, led by continued growth in both segments. Our plan remains the same—we will focus on diversification of the platform, while determining optimal ethanol plant operating levels based on market dynamics."

Green Plains produced 313.6 million gallons of ethanol during the third quarter, up from 292.2 million gallons produced during the same three-month period of 2016. The consolidated ethanol crush margin was $47.3 million, or 15 cents per gallon, compared with $51.6 million, or 17 cents per gallon, during the third quarter of last year.

The company produced 817,000 tons of distillers grains, up from 790,000 tons produced during the same quarter of last year. Corn oil production was also up, reaching 75.44 million pounds, up from 72.18 million pounds during the third quarter of last year. Green Plains consumed an estimated 109.54 million bushels of corn during the third quarter, up from 201.11 million bushels consumed during the same quarter of last year.

During an investor call, John Neppl, chief financial officer of Green Plains, said that consolidated volumes of ethanol sold during the quarter were up 13 percent, reaching 380 million gallons. The average realized price per gallon was also up slightly when compared to the third quarter of 2016, he noted. During the third quarter, the utilization rate for Green Plains ethanol production assets was approximately 84 percent. Becker indicated that Green Plains exported 11 percent of the ethanol it produced during the quarter.

Moving into the fourth quarter, Becker noted that margins have continued to drift downward. He also noted that industry-wide inventories are 1.7 million barrels higher than they were last year. Overall, he said the industry is in a slight oversupply situation for current ethanol demand, but said it is not enough to justify a broad industry slowdown as most of the plants are still running with positive contribution margins. Becker said even if the company sees some additional exports, the oversupply situation will remain, but will be a positive emphasis for 2018.

Becker said ethanol is at its widest discount to gasoline in many years, and is expected to remain so though 2018. “It is not only the cheapest octane, but approaching the cheapest Btu again,” he added, which could help grow exports. However, he also stressed that in order for exports to increase the industry needs to fight Brazilian tariffs, look for ways to engage China and reopen its markets, and work to get an open program in Mexico. He also mentioned the importance of trade initiatives with Canada, India, the Philippines and other countries.

Becker said Green Plains will continue to flex its production based on market conditions more than it has in the past. We will act much faster when we feel it is in the best interest of our shareholders, he added, noting the company will focus on its commitment to and growth prospects of the partnership.