Market News & Headlines >> Ethanol Stockpiles Seen Tight on Strong Exports

Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc. reported fourth-quarter earnings quadrupled from a year earlier while running its ethanol plants at nearly 100% capacity.

Omaha, Neb.-based Green Plains, the nation’s fourth-largest ethanol producer, reported earnings of $25.5 million, or 65 cents a share, compared with $6.7 million, or 21 cents a share, during the same quarter a year ago.

Company CEO Todd Becker told investors in a Thursday conference call that the first quarter would show even stronger results, and that export demand should keep ethanol stockpiles tight in the months ahead.

Given strong export demand and modest domestic demand growth, U.S. ethanol producers will have to produce 925,000 barrels a day just to maintain current ethanol stockpiles, which have tightened recently, Becker said. The industry has attained that production pace a few weeks recently, but prior to that had not done so since early 2012.

Becker said the company was on pace to export 11% of its first-quarter ethanol production and 20% of its second-quarter output.