Green Plains hunts deals to complement biofuel making

Source: By Russell Hubbard / World-Herald staff writer • Posted: Monday, February 9, 2015

Green Plains Inc., the nation’s fourth-largest ethanol producer, said Thursday it is on the prowl for acquisitions that would generate more predictable earnings that aren’t subject to the volatility of the corn-based biofuel.

“We believe businesses that are in other areas of agricultural production are all possibilities,” Becker said.

Green Plains said Wednesday that fourth-quarter profit soared by two-thirds on higher operating income from most of its business segments. Net income was $42.2 million, or $1.07 a share, from $25.5 million, or 65 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 16 percent to $830 million.

The company, whose shares have risen about 17 percent in

the past year, said operating income rose from ethanol production, corn oil production and the agribusiness segment that operates grain elevators. The company also operates a cattle feedlot in Kansas. For 2014, net income almost quadrupled to $160 million.

“We produced a record 966 million gallons of ethanol, processed 10 million tons of corn and earned over $100 million of non-ethanol operating income in 2014,” Becker said in the earnings statement.

Becker also said on the conference call that he expects higher gasoline demand from motorists this summer and, along with it, higher demand for gasoline and for ethanol that goes in it.

Green Plains, Becker said, has slightly slowed production at its 12 ethanol plants in response to high inventories of the motor fuel and narrower profit margins.