Green Plains' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Green Plains Renewable Energy, Inc. ( GPRE)

Q4 2011 Earnings Conference Call

February 9, 2012 11:00 AM ET


Jim Stark – Vice President Investor and Media Relations

Todd Becker – President and Chief Executive Officer

Jerry Peters – Chief Financial Officer

Jeff Briggs – Chief Operating Office

Steve Bleyl – Executive Vice President of Ethanol Marketing


Patrick Jobin – Credit Suisse

Matt Farwell – Imperial Capital

Lawrence Alexander – Jeffries

Farha Aslam – Stephens Inc

Paul Resnik – Resnik Asset Management



Good day and welcome to the Green Plains Renewable Energy Inc fourth quarter and full year 2011 financial results conference call. Today’s call is being recorded. At this time for opening remarks I will turn the call over to Jim Stark. Please go ahead.

Jim Stark

Thanks Matt. Welcome to our fourth quarter 2011 earnings call. On the call today are Todd Becker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Jerry Peters Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Briggs, our Chief Operating Officer and Steve Bleyl, Executive Vice President of Ethanol Marketing.

We are here to discuss our fourth quarter 2011 financial results and recent developments for Green Plains Renewable Energy. There is a slide presentation for you to follow along with as we go through our comments today. You can find this presentation on our website at on the investor page under the events and presentations link.

Our comments today will contain forward-looking statements, which are any statements made that are not historical facts. These forward-looking statements are based on the current expectations of Green Plains’ management team and there can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Because forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, Green Plains’ actual results could differ materially from management’s expectations.

Please refer to page two of our website presentation, and our 10-K and other periodic SEC filings for information about factors that could cause different outcomes. The information presented today is time sensitive and is accurate only at this time. If any portion of this presentation is rebroadcast, retransmitted or redistributed at a later date, Green Plains will not be reviewing or updating this material.

Now, I would like to turn the call over to Todd Becker.

Todd Becker

Thanks Jim and thanks for everybody joining our call this morning. In a short period of time we have built a large diversified enterprise. Our success includes generating 11 consecutive quarters of profitability and we owe this accomplishment to the execution of our strategy, the risk management, operational excellence in running our facilities in a safe manner. These are the fundamental reasons we continue to produce the results that we do.

Over the last three years we have generated in total over $345 million in EBITDA and have grown our company from 330 million gallons of productions at the start of 2009 to 740 million gallons of capacity by the end of 2011. One of the benefits of this performance is a stronger balance sheet with cash reserve at lower debt levels per gallon, which gives our stake holders comfort and our ability to sustain ourselves during times of margin compression.

Jerry will talk later in the call specifically on our balance sheet but we ended the year with an average of $0.60 per gallon of debt or plant related subsidiary debt compared to just over three years ago, when we built our plants with nearly $1 per gallon worth of debt. Our financial results for 2011 were strong from an EBITDA standpoint the company generated nearly $150 million for the year. We had a significant contribution from non-ethanol operating income again this quarter accounting for 48% or $19.1 million of our total segment operating profit. This was a result of our efforts that we have outlined for you as we have focused on building other income strains.

As you can see from our results, we have achieved our goal of a $50 million annual run rate on non-ethanol operating income. We indicated as a result in the fourth quarter would be better than the third and the company delivered on this as well. Part of this was driven by our Agri business segment, which saw a 76% increase in operating income in the fourth quarter of 2011 versus 2010. This segment delivered a strong full year result as well more than doubling its operating income from 2011.

The growth in Agri business operating income can be attributed mainly to increasing our storage capacity to $39 million bushels over the last three years. We still believe we can continue to grow this business. We have very good assets and great location and this business has been built from scratch to now operate in four states and handle more than 2 million tons of a combination of wheat, corn and soybeans. Our Tennessee asset performed exceptionally well this year. We were able to capitalize on the weak carries in this off wheat market earlier in the year and captured the last part of the corn inverses at Tennessee that has one of the earliest harvest cycles. This year was especially made for these assets.

Our investment in corn oil production continues to provide excellent returns generating another $9 million in operating income in the fourth quarter. We produce $27 million of operating income for all of 2011 from corn oil production but it really wasn’t until the third quarter before all the plants were up and running with the extraction equipment. For 2011 our ethanol production segment products a record 722 million gallons of ethanol an increase of 33% over 2010. We were successful in generating slightly better ethanol production margins in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to the third quarter.

Operating income before depreciation in the fourth quarter was $0.18 per gallon, which was $0.01 gallon improvement over the third quarter. The high basis levels for corn we experienced in the third quarter continued into the fourth and we are and are still impacting margins in the current quarter. As you know, we started to lock the fourth quarter margins away late in 2010 almost a year ahead of time. While the industry experienced a peak margin environment during the quarter margins also were very volatile especially when the inverse broke in December.

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