Omaha, Nebraska-based ethanol producer and distributor Green Plains expects expanded E15 ethanol availability to positively impact domestic ethanol demand into the New Year, while the company focuses on operational efficiency improvements and continued growth in its Food and Ingredients segments to diversify earnings.
The company produced a record 340.8mn gallons of ethanol during the fourth quarter of 2017, a 2% rise from the 334.2mn gal total from the same period last year. Domestic and global ethanol sales in the quarter totaled 358mn gallons, down 5% from last year’s 379.1mn total on increased market supply.
During the three months ended December 31, 2017, operating income decreased by $48.6mn when compared with the same period last year, primarily as a result of lowered ethanol margins.
Todd Becker, company chief executive, highlighted the success of the non-ethanol segments throughout the year, stating that the company expects an even larger payout of the earnings diversification strategy in 2018. Export demand is expected to pick up in 2018, with Green Plains forecasting record volumes of exports thanks to burgeoning demand globally.
Green Plains posted a net income in the quarter of $46.6mn, an increase of $12mn from last quarter’s $34.4mn total. For the full year of 2017, the company posted a net income of $61.1mn; while producing a combined 1.3bn gallons of ethanol, a 471% and 10% respective rise from the prior year.
Green Plains owns and operates 17 ethanol production plants across 10 US states, with an estimated annual production capacity of 1.42bn gal/year. The company, which claims to be the fourth largest ethanol producer in North America, employs 640 people across the US and Canada.