Updated from 1:16 p.m.SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Shares of several ethanol players climbed Wednesday on talk of pending consolidation in the industry. Privately held Poet LLC, the nation's top ethanol producer, said this week that it was talking with other companies about possible buyouts. The Sioux Falls, S.D., firm did not identify the companies it is looking at. And VeraSun Energy ( VSUN), the nation's No. 2 producer, said it had received an unsolicited takeover bid one month after seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. VeraSun shares gained a penny to 8 cents in over-the-counter trading. Aventine Renewable Energy ( AVR) gained 6 cents, or 8.7%, to 75 cents in afternoon trading. Verenium ( VRNM) was up 5 cents, or 8.1%, to 67 cents, and Pacific Ethanol ( PEIX - Get Report) rose 7 cents, or 12.1%, to 65 cents. BioFuel Energy ( BIOF) lost a penny to 38 cents. Meanwhile, shares of The Andersons ( ANDE - Get Report) closed down 18% Wednesday after the ethanol, railroad and fertilizer company lowered its 2008 earnings estimate. Piper Jaffray analyst Michael E. Cox cut his rating on The Andersons to neutral from buy, but the company's revision was based on fertilizer price volatility, not its ethanol operations. Andersons shares fell $2.93 to $12.95.
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