Green Plains shrugs off first quarter loss

Source: By Russell Hubbard / World-Herald staff writer • Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Green Plains Inc. said Tuesday that it had a loss in the first quarter after having recorded a profit a year earlier.

The Omaha-based company, the nation’s fourth-largest ethanol producer, said the loss was $3.3 million, or 9 cents a share. Net income a year earlier was $43.2 million, or $1.04 a share. Revenue was little-changed at $738 million.

Ethanol profit margins fell during the quarter as energy prices plummeted with falling oil and natural gas prices. Green Plains, with 12 plants around the country, said ethanol production operating income went from $66 million a year earlier to a loss of $13 million.

“As we indicated in February, U.S. ethanol industry margins were compressed during the first quarter of 2015 as energy prices declined,” Green Plains Chief Executive Todd Becker said. “Consumer demand for transportation fuels has continued to strengthen, providing a more positive outlook for the balance of the year.”

Becker said the company forecasts “profitable results” for the first half of 2015 and for the full year.

Non-ethanol operating income from corn oil production, agribusiness and marketing and distribution segments fell by about half, to $19 million.

Green Plains said it remains bullish. It said expansion projects to add 100 million gallons of production capacity are unaffected by the quarterly loss. The company has the capacity to produce about 1 billion gallons a year.