Green Plains produces record 340.8 million gallons during Q4

By Erin Voegele | February 09, 2018

Green Plains Inc. has released fourth quarter 2017 financial results, reporting the company produced a record 340.8 million gallons of ethanol during the three-month period, up from 334.2 million gallons during the fourth quarter of 2016.

The consolidated ethanol crush margin was $26.8 million, or 8 cents per gallon, for the fourth quarter, compared to $81.6 million, or 24 cents per gallon, during the same period of 2016.

"Ethanol margins were weak in the fourth quarter as growth in export demand started to take hold and industry stocks remained high," said Todd Becker, president and CEO of Green Plains. "As a result, we have lowered our ethanol production rate in the first quarter. We believe margins will show improvement as we move into the second quarter, led by robust global demand and stronger domestic demand compared to last year. We believe the U.S. will export record volumes again in 2018 as countries around the world continue to take advantage of the economic benefits of ethanol and blend more into their finished gasoline. The margins for U.S. blenders are the best we have seen since 2014 as wholesale ethanol prices continue to average 40 cents to 50 cents lower than wholesale gasoline with no cheaper competing source of octane."

Green Plains reported fourth quarter net income of $46.6 million, or 99 cents per diluted share, compared to $18.7 million, or 47 cents per diluted share, during the same quarter of 2016. Revenues were $921 million, down from $932.1 million during the fourth quarter of the previous year.

"Our non-ethanol segments reported strong performance in 2017 with $155 million of EBITDA," Becker said. "Our Food and Ingredients segment led the way with approximately $50 million of EBITDA, which was more than double what we reported last year, highlighting the success of our diversification strategy. This growth was driven by a full year of results from Fleischmann's Vinegar and the expansion of Green Plains Cattle. We expect an even stronger 2018 from these segments. We also had a strong quarter and finish to the year by the Ag and Energy segment, led by our merchant activities in natural gas."

Revenues for the full year reached $3.6 billion, up from $3.4 billion in 2016. Net income for the full year was $61.1 million, or $1.47 per diluted share, compared to $10.7 million, or 28 cents per diluted share, in 2016.

During an investor call, Becker noted that approximately 18 percent of Green Plains’ fourth quarter ethanol production was exported, with a third of that volume moving through the company’s export terminal in Beaumont, Texas. Top destinations for Green Plains exports included Brazil, India and the United Emirates.

For the full year, Becker said Green Plains exported approximately 200 million gallons of ethanol, accounting for approximately 15 percent of the record 1.37 billion gallons of ethanol the U.S. exported last year.

Moving into 2018, Becker said Green Plains expects exports to continue to increase, reaching 1.7 billion to 1.8 billion gallons. Strong demand is expected from Canada, Brazil, India, Philippines and the Middle East, and hopefully Mexico and China, Becker continued, noting that the industry also needs domestic consumption to grow.

Becker said Green Plains expects the U.S. ethanol industry to produce approximately 1.05 million barrels of ethanol per day this year, which is 16.1 billion gallons on an annualized basis. This run rate, he said, is approximately 1.7 percent higher than the 1.032 million barrels per day produced last year.

Regarding the Beaumont terminal, Becker said the first ethanol unit train arrived on Nov. 11. Since then, the facility has unloaded 22 unit trains and loaded nine vessels. The facility also offloaded two barges of ethanol that originated from Green Plains Madison, Illinois, plant.