Green Plains reports better-than-expected first-quarter earnings

Source: By By Brad Davis, Omaha World Herald • Posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Omaha-based Green Plains reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings Monday, even as it logged a loss.

The company, the country’s second-largest maker of ethanol, lost $3.6 million, or 9 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of the year compared with a loss of $24.1 million, or 63 cents per diluted share, in the same period last year. Wall Street analysts had expected a loss of 17 cents a share, according to estimates compiled by FactSet.

Revenues were $887.7 million for the first quarter of 2017 compared with $749.2 million for the same period last year.

CEO Todd Becker noted the year-on-year improvement despite what he said was a seasonally soft first quarter. A cattle business and a newly acquired vinegar business both contributed record quarters, he said.

“We continue to diversify our revenue and income streams with a more balanced portfolio of businesses to minimize the impact of a soft ethanol quarter,” he said.

Just last week the company bought two feedlots from agri-giant Cargill. The purchase doubled the Omaha company’s cattle-feeding capacity and made it the fourth-largest cattle feeder in the nation.

The company’s stock is up more than 25 percent over the past year — though so far in 2017 it’s had a tougher time, declining about 18 percent since January. The stock closed down 1.52 percent Monday on a day when the broader market was flat.

Each share fetched $22.65 at the close of Nasdaq trade, before the company reported earnings.